Pacesetter - Winter 2010 - MedKamp

MedKamp brings students face to face with Kettering College and health care

by Julie Thompson

At an age when most boys are still dreaming of professional sports, Daniel DeBardeleben decided he was heading to medical school.
He was 14 and had just finished reading Desire of Ages, a book on
the life of Jesus. By the time he closed the back cover, it was clear
to him that entering the health care field would help him live a life much like his Savior.

Three years later, at Kettering College’s 2007 MedKamp, DeBardeleben said he experienced
a confirmation of his calling.

“I knew Kettering College was perfect for me,” DeBardeleben said. “I was drawn by the strong focus on academics and Kettering’s faith community.

Today, DeBardeleben is a junior at Kettering College, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in human biology. When he isn’t studying, he’s worshipping. DeBardeleben joined the Kettering College Choir, and also created a small Bible study with other students.

DeBardeleben is one of nearly 35 students whose journey at Kettering College began through MedKamp. The program, which started in 2006, pulls Seventh-day Adventist high school seniors from all over the country for a 24-hour event, experiencing Kettering College from the residence hall to the cadaver lab.

MedKamp has grown from a quaint recruitment weekend with one prospective student to more than 120 attendees from as far away as California and New York. The idea has become Kettering College’s top recruitment tool for Seventh-day Adventist students and has helped boost the number of Adventist students attending Kettering.

Before MedKamp was launched, only 9 percent of the school’s student body was a part of the denomination. Today, almost 13 percent of enrolled students are affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The recruitment staff wants that number to grow to 25 percent as they build their relationships with Seventh-day Adventist academies around the country.

“Increasing the number of Adventist students helps build diversity among our student body, which is heavily made up of residents from the surrounding counties,” said Mike Unterseher, director of recruitment. “And perhaps more importantly, it helps keep the faith we were born out of strong and our mission alive.”


MedKamp started small. Since the idea for it came about late in the year, its marketing yielded just 30 registrations. The number dwindled with cancellations, and by MedKamp weekend, just one prospect remained: Katie Lenz.

Lenz and her mother had purchased plane tickets from Washington state
to Dayton. They feared MedKamp would be canceled, but recruitment staff assured them the show would go on. Lenz received the red carpet treatment, and by the time she
got back on the plane, she’d made her decision: diagnostic medical sonography at Kettering College.

Lenz graduated in 2009 and took a position as a sonographer at Wilson Memorial Hospital in Sidney, Ohio. While she attended Kettering, she helped out at MedKamp and was a champion of what Kettering College has to offer. She’s still regarded as “MedKamp mascot” because she was the first attendee.

“I think MedKamp is very valuable to prospective students,” Lenz said. “It gives students a good look at what goes on at the College. They get to talk personally to teachers and current students. I used to talk to them a lot about our teachers and how good they are and how willing they are to give you the extra time.”

Lenz told prospective students about every detail, including the cool perks in the dorm like the free use of a washer and dryer. She also loved the deeper details like how teachers would pray before class.

The 2006 MedKamp was the beginning of something really good. Each year has provided opportunities to grow and change. The recruitment team also discovered that, instead of
going after individual attendees, its best bet was to bring students by the busload from Seventh-day Adventist academies.

“The first rule of recruitment is to get the student on your campus,” said recruiter Brandon Kennison. “MedKamp is a great way for us to get large numbers of students on the campus at one time.”


MedKamp isn’t an ordinary college visit. Students are greeted with subs for dinner and are placed in a game-show atmosphere intended to get their minds thinking.

The next day, their knowledge is put to the test in the College’s realistic settings. They tour classrooms, meet teachers and walk through labs. High school students on the fence about health professions quickly find out if the field is up their alley as they touch a real brain and view a cadaver.

Such careful planning spoke to Tony Passerallo when he attended MedKamp as a high school senior in 2007. Tony, who had natural strengths in math and science and considered following his dad’s footsteps into banking, spent the year job-shadowing individuals in various careers, and after spending a day with his uncle at the Cleveland Clinic, he discovered a love of health care.

At MedKamp, he was impressed with how staff and students listened and cared about his individual situation.

“I looked at one other school, and the biggest thing I realized was that no one gave me the time of day,” Passerallo said. “No one (at the other school) was excited to show me around and tell me what they had to offer.”

MedKamp not only solidified where Passerallo was going to school, but also helped him narrow down what degree he wanted to pursue. Now a senior at Kettering College, Passerallo is on target for his bachelor’s in human biology in April and will begin a master’s in physician assistant studies at Kettering in May.

“My parents always said if you find something you love, then you’ll never work a day in your life,” Passerallo said.

After the guidance they received at MedKamp, Passerallo and many other students have found just that.



MedKamp 2011

MedKamp 2011 is scheduled for sept. 25-26. Call 1-800-433-5262 for more information.