Photos courtesy of Brandon Oddo
Senior Brandon Oddo smiles at an event while donning a flower crown. During his time at Pepperdine, Oddo volunteered at hospitals and clinics in the Malibu area, which he said deepened his understanding of the medical field.
Senior Brandon Oddo went to Fiji the summer after his freshman year as part of a volunteer program made up of Pepperdine students. While in this program, he said he was able to provide medical help and connect with the people around him. Oddo also worked as a medical scribe in a clinic, recording encounters between doctors and patients. He said scribing is an intimate experience, where he and a patient can connect and work toward a common goal: the patient’s health.
Oddo, a Sports Medicine major and Art minor on the track for medical school, is heavily involved in both life at Pepperdine and in the surrounding Malibu area. He is president of the Regents Scholar Student Board (RSSB), which he has participated in since his sophomore year. Additionally, Oddo is a teaching assistant in a variety of courses and an aspiring snap-box player at The Well.
When Oddo is not engaging with the Pepperdine community, he is interning at hospitals and medical clinics in Malibu. He has also volunteered his time teaching English through the Malibu Labor Exchange.
You mentioned the Fiji Program. What was something you enjoyed or took away from that experience?
Brandon Oddo: Well, the Fiji Program is just a very intimate and special kind of program. You’re living on the campus with plenty of families who live and work there, and it teaches you quite a bit about human interaction and what it’s like to be in a place that is so interconnected. I spent a lot of time learning the language just because it made for more mutual exchanges with people. There is something about asking someone to teach you something that is so personal to them that really makes them want to connect with you and engage.
You also mentioned internships in the medical field, so what was something you learned from those internships?
BO: I was a volunteer at Los Robles Hospital, and that was good because it put me in a very intergenerational environment where I was with college students, grad students and a lot of retirees who felt like they had to give back to the hospital. […] For Westminster Clinic, I am a scribe, and it’s a free clinic that is offered to low-income populations, so I learned a lot about that. I’m still going there now during COVID, so I get to see how the clinic adapts to the COVID situation, how they throw us into face masks and plastic shields. Through Westminster Clinic, I get to engage with an under-served population that is incredibly appreciative of the work they have there. I still remember one doctor that I scribe for: He’s excellent and spent a whole hour with this one person just doing a physical and asking him how he’s been doing.
What encouraged your choice for pre-med and the medical field?
BO: In high school, I was good at science and I liked helping people, so if you have fun in your biology class as a freshman in high school and you like helping people, then you might as well try it out. Probably right around Fiji freshman year was when I started getting more information and experience that really made it an informed choice — then especially junior year when I started scribing and had an immensely higher level of exposure to the medical field. Part of it is that first and foremost, it puts one in an environment that is incredibly raw, authentic and just viscerally connected to fundamental human truths. I can be sitting there across from a patient, and to make it a meaningful relationship, we both have to be approaching it from a perspective that has a reverence for the fragility but meaning of life.
You mentioned that you loved biology class in high school. What were some of the classes or teachers at Pepperdine that you loved to learn from?
BO: Great Books has been a huge part of my college career. I think it is the epitome of the type of education you should get in a college. It is very small discussion group-oriented — that higher level of thinking when you are just pouring through a dense book and then breaking it down and discussing it. I had Dr. Gose, and I think that — for reasons I don’t need to elaborate for anyone that has had him — he is the best Great Books Professor.
Finally, do you have any advice for undergraduates or new students?
BO: It depends on the person; if I gave the same advice to everyone, it wouldn’t be very good advice. So I would say if they want specific advice from me for some reason — I wouldn’t know why they would — that they could contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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