Luke Hafdahl

The amazing people at UW-Superior sculpted me into the successful person I am today. They genuinely cared about my success after graduation."

Luke Hafdahl came to UW-Superior to get a Criminal Justice degree.

"I really thought for some reason I was going to be an FBI agent," he recalls.

Now, Luke is a chief resident at the Mayo Clinic, one of the world's premier medical institutions, where he helps lead early career doctors and medical students. When he's done with that, he'll be a staff physician at Mayo.

What happened in the meantime? At UW-Superior Luke discovered a new side of himself. Professors at UW-Superior saw talents he didn't even know he had and pointed them out. Luke got he message loud and clear.

As for his FBI career, "I guess I got a little ahead of myself as to what I wanted," he says.

Luke doesn't come from a long line of doctors or scientists. He grew up middle class on Minnesota's Iron Range, in Virginia, pop. 9,000. His dad's a phy-ed teacher and his mom works at the same school. He had been taking criminal justice classes at UW-Superior and they were all right, but not what he expected.

Meanwhile, to fulfill a science requirement, he signed up for a chemistry class. The professor, noticing that Luke seemed to have a knack for chemistry, asked if he ever considered switching his major. At the time he still had no interest in the sciences.

"But I really took it to heart," he said. "I talked with my family, and they encouraged me. I switched to chemistry and I enjoyed it way more. It really lit a fire under me."

UW-Superior's high-quality faculty, comfortable campus and class sizes made it possible. "Your professors get to know you and you get to know them," he said. "They're going to be much better at recognizing your skills than you are. They're going to be able to guide you on a path depending on what your interests are. That's a big advantage. I wasn't thinking about it as an advantage when I came there, but it really is."

Luke says his grounding in the sciences prepared him well for medical school and it set the stage for the leadership role he's now playing at Mayo. As one of four chief residents, he is promoting evidence-based medicine to doctors-in-training and medical school students. Evidence-based medicine is a movement that calls for relying less on conventional medical wisdom and using more scientific research and data to drive patient care.

"In the chemistry division, we were taught to appreciate the scientific literature and the scientific process," he says. "That's imparted strongly by our professors. What's the evidence, why do certain things work? What does the literature tell us?"

Luke is giving back to UW-Superior by running an informal job shadowing experience at Mayo for undergrads interested in medicine. He lets students stay at his house and sets them up to follow some of the greatest minds in medicine as they do their work.

To find out how you can help UW-Superior students become the best and the brightest, contact the Alumni Association.