OVPUE’s employee in the spotlight this month is Rachel Tolen, Director of the Health Professions and Prelaw Center here at IU.
Here’s what she had to say (responses may have been edited for concision and clarity):
What is your name and what do you do; how long have you worked here in OVPUE?
My name is Rachel Tolen and I’m the Director of the Health Professions and Prelaw Center (HPPLC). I have worked at HPPLC since 2005, so it’s nearly fifteen years now. I help students prepare for medical and health profession school.
What three traits define you?
I aim to be kind, because no one needs any more hardship than life already hands them.
It’s very important to me to see goals achieved.
I believe a sense of humor is necessary for survival.
What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
I used to imagine living as a writer if I could afford to do so. Now if I did something else, I think I’d like to work in a state or national park, where I could spend my days closer to the natural world.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Last winter I got a dulcimer. It’s an instrument with a very interesting history. It spread in popularity because it was relatively easy to make, inexpensive to obtain, and almost anyone could learn to play it. It provided a way for so many people to make their own music at home. I know a few tunes, but I’d like to play better so it could make the sweet and simple sounds it’s intended to make.
What challenging thing has happened (to) for you, and what did you gain from it?
This is easy: Covid-19 Pandemic. Isn’t it one of the most challenging things we’ve all faced? We’ve never had to deal with anything quite like this before. Being someone who really likes to see goals accomplished, I’ve had to learn to be patient. I’ve had to learn to go slower. People talk about the value of being able to stay in the moment and the pandemic has taught me about that.
My father is in his 80’s and lives with me, so we have to be extra careful in everything we do to stay safe. No saving time by grabbing dinner out. I have rediscovered the satisfaction of figuring out how to use whatever ingredients are on hand to make a home-cooked dinner from scratch. One dish I created I call Pandemic Chicken, and I’m sure I’ll continue making it for years to come because it’s somewhat addictive.
How do you define success?
The greatest successes are not just individual achievements, but have collective benefits, and are the outcome of collective efforts; to do our best, we need the support of each other.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to hike and spend time out of doors. I count myself lucky to live in Bloomington in such close proximity to so many public lands and natural areas.
What’s the coolest (or most important) trend you see today?
I admire everyone who is acting to promote public health and well-being through this challenging time, whether they be the health professionals, scientists, front line essential workers, or individuals. Everyone who wears a face mask because it could help someone more vulnerable is a hero to me.
What is your favorite thing about working at OVPUE?
Working in OVPUE, I enjoy being part of a creative community dedicated to providing the highest-quality education to undergraduate students. The experiences students have in college are very formative, having a lasting impact on their lives and careers for years to come. I like being a part of that.