A musician in med school

Picture a champion fiddler. She’s playing a hoe-down, dressed in jeans and a western shirt. Now picture a future doctor. She’s in med school, dreaming of the day she’ll earn her white coat. In the case of Edith Sigler, you’re picturing the same person. 

And in both scenarios, Pittsburg State University played a role in helping her get there. 

Sigler, a Joplin native and graduate of Carl Junction High School, graduated from Pitt State in May with a degree in music. This fall, she’s a first-year med student at the Wichita campus of the University of Kansas Medical School. 

And, as of a few weeks ago, she is now the Kansas State Fiddle Champion after a fierce competition in Lawrence. 

Does she consider it odd to be a musician in med school? 

"Believe it or not, med schools like music students; we often have a broad life view, discipline and dedication, and lots of coursework in the humanities,” she said. 

A world of music 

Sigler grew up in the world of music, taking lessons and performing at festivals in a string band comprised of her brother Glenn, their parents, and their grandparents. 

By age 6, she had won the pee wee division of a fiddle competition in Oklahoma. 

Subsequent years saw her adding other instruments to her play list, including the piano and the clarinet. 

In her teen years, she and Glenn took turns winning the junior division of the Kansas State Fiddle Competition multiple times. Like Edith, he also played multiple instruments. Like Edith, he also took lessons from Associate Professor Raul Munguia and performed in a myriad of music ensembles on campus, from marching band to orchestra. 

“The advantage to coming to a slightly smaller school like Pitt State is getting to do so many things that you have an interest in,” she said. 

Serving through medicine 

Both siblings also felt called to the world of medicine: Glenn dreamed of a career in dentistry, and after graduating from PSU with a degree in biology in 2019, he’s in the Missouri School of Dentistry in Kirksville. 

In addition to her music degree, Edith completed all of the pre-requisites for medical school while at Pitt State, earning minors in both chemistry and in physical science. 

“The flat rate tuition meant that we could take as many classes as we wanted to,” she said. 

Like Glenn, she did well, graduating with a 4.0 and a college resumé that included membership in Chemistry Club, Wildlife & Fisheries Society, Sigman Alpha Iota, and Honors College. She applied to multiple med schools and was hoping for acceptance by the University of Kansas. In May, she got her wish. 

These days, she’s pouring over textbooks for courses like biochemistry, genetics, and medical pathways. 

“I’m in 8-week blocks, now focusing on molecular and cellular medicine, and then after that infectious diseases,” she said. “I’m happy I got into med school. I’m surviving, but I do miss performing!” 

As for being named a champion fiddler, that was icing on the cake: the competition is open to everyone regardless of age and residency, so she was up against professionals and older, more seasoned musicians. And then there’s sibling rivalry: Glenn won the championship in 2018. 

“It was my turn!” she laughed.

Learn more:

Pre-med / pre-dental program

Music program

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