Student Daniel Knolla earns early admission to medical school

Nov 10, 2021
Daniel Knolla

Daniel Knolla, a senior biochemistry major and member of the Sloppy Joe Improv Troupe, was accepted into The University of Kansas School of Medicine.

After applying in late August and completing an interview in September, Knolla returned his focus to his studies and extracurriculars while he waited for a response.

Just weeks later, Knolla was headed home after spending his evening working on the theater set for Newman’s production of “Murder at the Café Noir.”

The cast of the Newman theater production, "Murder at the Café Noir" included Daniel Knolla (back row, second from the right).
The cast of the Newman theater production “Murder at the Café Noir” included Daniel Knolla (back row, second from the right).

“I was sitting in my car, about to head out, and then I checked my email.”

That was the moment when Knolla found out he had been accepted into KU for his medical studies.

“At first, I started doing whatever the equivalent is of jumping up and down in your car — I don’t know — waving my hands in the air screaming, and then I just had a sigh of relief.”

Preparation and application

It took multiple months of preparation before Knolla submitted his application to KU. 

“It was definitely very stressful,” he said. “I spent about two months over the summer studying for the MCAT, because I didn’t have a lot of time during the end of last semester being in the play. I took the MCAT towards the beginning of July, got my scores back about a week before the application deadline, got all my letters of recommendations together, wrote all the essays, filled out my personal statement, then I just sent it in and tried to forget about it for a month.”

Daniel Knolla is the 2021 recipient of the Steve Palubicki Outstanding Sophomore or Junior in Biology Award.
Daniel Knolla is the 2021 recipient of the Steve Palubicki Outstanding Sophomore or Junior in Biology Award.

When it came time for his interview, Knolla felt understandably nervous, but was more confident because of his experience in a mock interview.

“After that, I let it go for a couple of weeks, and then I got my acceptance letter,” Knolla said.

Gearing up for medical school

In his final preparations for medical school, Knolla has talked with other Newman alumni who are currently medical students at KU. He has also begun reading up on what he can expect during his time there.

“From what I know, the first two years of med school are essentially you just cramming as much knowledge as you can into your brain about anatomy, physiology, patient care, etc.,” he said. “For years three and four, you kind of start doing your rounds, getting into specialties and you find where you want to go.”

Just like deciding on a major in college, interests can evolve as a student progresses through their medical studies.

“A lot of people say there’s a good chance that you’re going to change what you want to do at the end of med school, so I’m trying to just keep an open mind about it.”

Knolla is also taking advice from current medical students on what to do in the meantime.

“Honestly, I think the biggest thing is that I’m just taking time to myself. I’m doing my best to take it easy, and not take on too many things this last year before I enter medical school, and that’s not to say that I’m dreading medical school, but I know I won’t have as much time.”

Leaving behind memories at Newman

For Knolla, Newman has been an important stepping stone in Knolla’s path to becoming a student of medicine.

“The science courses, especially the upper-level ones, have definitely nailed in a lot of the basics of biology and chemistry, and I think they’ve done a good job of making me work well under pressure,” he said. “But that also comes in multiple forms. Not only did I work well under pressure for things like biochemistry and genetics, but I also did things like improv and theater. They gave me a way to release the strain on my brain and bring balance to my life, which is something that I don’t think a lot of other universities do for students.”

Daniel Knolla, front center, assisted with the 2021 summer Investigative Summer STEM Program (ISSP) at Newman.
Daniel Knolla, front center, assisted with the 2021 summer Investigative Summer STEM Program (ISSP) at Newman.

Though it will be challenging, Knolla said he looks forward to medical school’s “sea of new possibilities.”

“I’ve always been a person of just waking up and getting to work. I’m really excited to get knee-deep into the things I’m interested in. I think it will just be exciting to start the next phase of being a medical student and to apply the knowledge that I’ve accumulated.”

Looking ahead to the future, Knolla’s ambitions are simple in nature but vast in scope.

“I think it’d be absolutely awesome to be part of something that does a good deed for the globe, not only the city I work in. But other than that, I hope to just be able to go to a coffee shop and see someone who I’ve helped, and to say hi to the people who trust me with their lives.”

Video: Daniel Knolla describes the on-campus living experience at Newman.

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