F&M Stories

Rouse Scholar Turns Adversity into Curiosity

Stricken with a mysterious illness in high school, Franklin & Marshall sophomore Sara Beqiraj took adversity and spun it into curiosity.

That perspective is what put Beqiraj, a pre-med student, on the path toward earning the prestigious Rouse Scholarship.

Made possible via a generous gift by Andrew Rouse '49, the Rouse Scholarship is a leadership-focused, merit-based scholarship that covers full tuition, books, and laboratory fees for sophomores that continues through graduation.

Beqiraj's interest in medicine began in high school anatomy and physiology class. A standout volleyball player for Lower Merion, athletics and academics were put on hold when she developed pleural effusions (a build-up of lung fluid) her senior year. The case stumped her team of doctors.

"It was a scary experience, but being able to see the medical world from that patient perspective was really valuable to me because I was able to see how doctors work together in a team and how they approach treating patients with conditions like mine," Beqiraj said.

Her health now stable, Beqiraj stays busy on campus with a bevy of activities, including medicine, club sports, and the bilingualism lab with Jessica Cox, associate professor of Spanish and linguistics. (Along with Spanish, Beqiraj is fluent in Albanian; her parents immigrated in the '90s and both teach in the Philadelphia area).

Beqiraj is quick to credit the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Dr. Jon Burnham, clinical director of the Division of Rheumatology.

"Being able to see the medical world from that perspective was what really pushed me into medicine," Beqiraj said.

"I wouldn't change anything. It's what ultimately has led me onto this path and I'm happy about it."

Sara Beqiraj '25

  • Major: Intended biochemistry and molecular biology (pre-medicine track)
  • Minor: Spanish
  • Hometown: Wynnewood, PA
  • Activities on campus:
    • Bilingualism lab
    • Lancaster General Health volunteer (pediatric unit)
    • F&M EMS
    • Club volleyball
    • Phi Sigma Pi
    • Kappa Delta sorority

Why did you choose to attend F&M?

I chose to attend F&M because of the rigorous STEM programs as well as the small class sizes. I also knew I wanted to participate in undergraduate research. It was clear to me that F&M highly encourages students to engage with professors and develop problem-solving skills through research. Also, my neighbor (Michael Green '77) is a proud alumnus and spoke highly of F&M's preparation for students interested in graduate school. With all of these factors combined, I believed F&M would be a great fit for me!

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership, to me, means service and open-mindedness. I firmly believe that in order to be an effective leader who serves the greater good, one must be open to different viewpoints, ideas, and beliefs. Specifically, leaders must be able to listen and have thoughtful discussions with the community or communities they are attempting to lead. I believe if you are not listening to the words of the people you are speaking on behalf of, you are not fulfilling your role as a leader.

What are your post-graduation goals?

After graduation, I plan to attend medical school with the goal of becoming a pediatric rheumatologist.

“Being able to see the medical world from that patient perspective was really valuable to me.”

— Sara Beqiraj '25

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