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Graduating Rugby President is Valedictorian

03/03/2020, 10:15am CST

The club is proud to announce that our former president Charbel Medlej was a valedictorian for the most recent graduating class.  Charbel also completed his studies interning at two different VA clinics.  This is Charbels story on his experience at Palmer.

Coming into Palmer, I was worried about how I would perform as a student. I was barely an average student in undergrad and seeing the curricular schedule each semester made me very worried that I wouldn’t succeed at Palmer. I wasn’t proud of my performance as a student in undergrad and starting at Palmer would be a fresh start for me. I made the commitment to make school my absolute number one priority because I knew that when I graduate from Palmer, patients are going to depend on me to bring a certain knowledge-base and skill set to the table. With this mindset, I made a list of goals and taped it to the wall above my desk. The next three years were filled with early mornings and late nights to make sure those goals were reached.

You can’t make it through this program with a close network of friends. I truly have to credit the rugby club for my success throughout Palmer. Having teammates ahead of me in the program to guide me through and give me advice was extremely helpful. Playing my favorite sport was the best way for me to unwind from the stress of studying. I always looked forward to training and playing on Saturdays; and I made priceless memories playing for this club. I served as the Treasurer of the club for one year, and the next year I served as the President, and we even went as far as the Sweet 16 my last year playing with for Palmer. I had a group of friends to study with for every exam. Having my teammates in my corner through this program was invaluable, keeping me motivated and sane, helping me both in class and on the rugby field. I also quickly learned that Palmer’s rugby club has an incredible alumni network that all support each other. The support I gained during my time in school doesn’t end when I walk across the stage, but continues all the way through my career. As the alumni have supported me as a student, I look forward to doing the same for future Palmer students in the rugby program. I learned that it’s not about the current players, but about all of the players that came before them and the entire program; leaving the program better than it was when you were there. I can’t put into words how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to play my favorite sport for this club and have my teammates with me through these three years; it would have been impossible without them.

I was also lucky in the fact that prior to my time at Palmer, I worked for a Palmer graduate who did the VA/DoD program when she was a student; and told me how beneficial it was to her career. Since day one at Palmer I wanted to get accepted into the VA/DoD program. I try to be as aware as possible of my strengths and weaknesses. I know that entrepreneurship is not one of my strengths and working as part of a team is one of my strengths. Knowing these strengths and weaknesses, and coming from a military family, I felt working in a VA/DoD hospital is where I would fit best. I could give back to our veterans who have sacrificed so much for us, and I could work in a hospital setting with a team of other providers. In this setting, I don’t have to worry about running a business; only being a physician. This puts me in an environment that suits my strengths and allows me to focus on nothing but the patients.

I did my 9th term at the VA hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL and my 10th term at the VA hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. I was lucky enough to learn from three different chiropractic physicians and experience thousands of unique cases. Treating veterans has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding part of my education. One of the most beneficial aspects of this program is the opportunity to learn from other specialists. I worked with other disciplines such as primary care, emergency medicine, radiology, orthopedics, neurosurgery, neurology, acupuncture, podiatry, and more. Working with all these different specialties makes you a much better and very well-rounded clinician. As I approach graduation, I feel confident and very prepared thanks to the education I’ve received from everyone I worked with in the VA hospitals; including the veterans themselves. Being a part of this setting, I was also able to see the direction our profession is moving in, and I am very excited to see chiropractors working in multidisciplinary setting; as this is much needed. I am hoping to earn a position as a VA Chiropractic Resident following graduation so I can stay in the VA system.

Looking back on my time at Palmer; I accomplished a lot of my goals. I look back at my first few trimesters where I was constantly asking questions and asking for help from professors and people ahead of me in the program; to how my role changed over time and I became the one with the answers and helping younger students. I feel confident and prepared to begin my chiropractic career thanks to the education and lessons I’ve gained from my professors, teammates, and my staff doctors at Palmer and the VA hospitals.  This is my biggest accomplishment in my life so far; I am proud to say I graduated as the Valedictorian of the best Chiropractic school in the world, and I am proud to have been a part of the Palmer Rugby Club. Being a Palmer Rugby graduate, I have a big reputation to uphold and I have to always represent our profession, our school, and our rugby program in the best way possible. It was a privilege to be a part of it and I enjoyed every second of it. The biggest lesson I learned along the way at Palmer, is that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey; and I look forward to carrying this lesson with me into my career. 

Congratulations Charbel and to the rest of the graduating class.

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