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The College of St. Scholastica

Dr. Charlie Ahrens builds foundation for the future

He learned the basics of anatomy and biology in high school. Complex bodily biochemical processes and pathways in medical school. But as an undergraduate at St. Scholastica, Dr. Charlie Ahrens learned perhaps the most important skill of all – thinking.

“My Scholastica education not only gave me the basic science knowledge I needed to succeed in medical school, but it also taught me how to think critically and process information in a logical, organized fashion,” Ahrens said.

These skills have transferred into his practice as an ophthalmologist at Relf Eye Care Specialists in Duluth.

“Whether it’s in the office or the operating room, I use these skills every day.”

So how exactly did CSS help form them? The answer lies in the level of attention Charlie received here.

Ready for anything

“One of the main benefits of the science program here was the small class sizes,” he said. “Professors like Dr. Cizadlo, Dr. Walton and Dr. McGahey always had an open door and took the time to help me individually. They created a very open learning environment and made it easy for me to take an active role in my education.”

This helped catapult Ahrens to the University of South Dakota Medical School after graduating with degrees in biology and biochemistry in 2002. And when he got there, he was fully prepared.

“Once I was in medical school and residency, I realized how well Scholastica had prepared me for the next step,” Ahrens said. “The professors here are equal or superior to those of any large university, which allowed me to hit the ground running in medical school, residency and eventually in my practice.”

But it wasn’t just about academics. Whether it was in the classroom or on the tennis court, his experience at CSS taught him values that he still lives by today.

“I learned how to reach goals and work hard for what I want to achieve without undermining my integrity, which really helped me in school, work, and life in general.”