But, as fate would have it, she had a change of heart
and decided to take the 16-mile, 25-minute journey up
US-15 to Lycoming’s campus in Williamsport.
“I visited it during the ugliest time of year, when it
was cold and dreary and all the leaves were off the trees,”
said Tipler, who has doctorate in osteopathic medicine.
“I figured if I could fall in love with a place during its
ugliest time of year, then that’s where I belonged. When
I stepped foot on campus, I fell in love. Everyone was
warm and welcoming and the facilities were beautiful. I
knew it’s where I belonged.”
Her time on campus was well-spent. She was class
president, secretary of the Campus Activities Board and
also held positions in Beta Phi Gamma and in numerous
honor societies.
“My favorite faculty members were Dr. Fred Thayer
[music] and all the biology, chemistry, Spanish and
theatre professors,” said Tipler, who earned a bachelor’s
degree in biology and a minor in Spanish. “Some of
my favorite classes were my Spanish translation class,
genetics, theatre and choir. I just really loved my time
there.”
When Tipler walked across the stage at
commencement and received her diploma in May 2005,
she proudly became the first college graduate in her
family.
Now, just seven years later, Tipler finds herself
thousands of miles away from Watsontown, Williamsport,
and for that matter, Pennsylvania. She is stationed in the
Sinai in Egypt, where she serves as a flight surgeon for
the Multinational Force & Observers, an international
organization designed to supervise the implementation
of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty
of Peace. And, as an added bonus, she is able to continue
an honorable family tradition of military service; her
grandfather served in the Navy during the Cuban Missile
Crisis and her father was an Army Airborne Ranger.
“My grandfather was really proud of the time he spent
in the military and used to show me his Navy books,”
she said. “I looked at him and saw how proud he was of
what he had done. I find that really admirable. He is what
sparked my interest.”
Following her graduation from the Philadelphia
College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2009, Tipler said
goodbye to Pennsylvania and headed to Tacoma, Wash.,
where she engaged in a three-year residency in internal
medicine at the Madigan Army Medical Center.
“An internal medicine residency, like any residency,
is very challenging,” she said. “You are constantly
studying and learning new things, as medicine is an
ever-evolving field. You spend long hours at the hospital,
managing very sick patients. You develop close bonds
with those patients and their families. So it’s not only a
mental challenge, but an emotional challenge as well.
Sometimes it’s difficult to leave work at work and not
take it home with you. I’m still learning that.
“The thing I love most about my job is my patients.
I have met some amazing people. I take the time to talk
to them and learn a little about their lives. I only get
to experience the world through my eyes, so I find it
fascinating to try and see the world through someone
else’s eyes.”
Leading up to her assignment in Egypt, which began
in October, Tipler received flight surgeon training
at Alabama’s Fort Rucker, home of the U.S. Army
Aviation Center of Excellence. There, she learned about
the various aspects of aviation and the multitude of
helicopter controls. She spent time flying, training in
hypobaric chambers that simulate how the body responds
to different altitudes with low oxygen, and working on
swimming and survival skills. She also was prepped on
what it takes to be a doctor for a flight unit.
“My unit wants to fly, so I’m going to do everything
in my power to keep them in the air,” Tipler said. “In
terms of learning the aviation aspect of it, I will never
be a subject matter expert like the pilots and flight crew.
However, by knowing a little about what they are doing,
I can relate better to the soldiers I’m working with.”
Tipler’s dual-role with the American forces involves
assisting with helicopter medical evacuation missions
and providing camp-based treatment to keep soldiers
healthy and ready to serve.
Although she has just begun to serve her country,
Tipler has clear thoughts about her future.
“I joined the Army for a reason, and that is to take
care of soldiers,” she said. “The only thing I know for
sure is that I will stay in the Army for a career as it is my
calling, and I love what I do and who I serve.”
That passion may have never been developed had she
not taken that short jaunt up US-15 to Lycoming, which
no doubt played a major role in helping her to spread her
wings with soaring success.
“I gained a strong foundation from Lycoming in terms
of my education,” Tipler said. “My classes prepared me
to get into medical school and have that background
knowledge to understand the physiology of the human
body. The opportunities I had in terms of being involved
in multiple organizations made me a well-rounded
person and provided the skills I need to be a leader in the
Army.”
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