Serafina Zotter ’23: Research for Healing

Serafina Zotter ’23 never expected to come to the United States for college. She grew up in Europe and planned to study medicine at a prestigious research university in the west, where tuition was free. 

But when Serafina began searching for the next place she’d call home, she felt strongly called to leave Austria for Wenham, Massachusetts. The decision was unexpected in every way: spiritual, professional and financial.

Would she have specialized and meaningful research opportunities? Would she get into medical school? How would she pay for this?

Upon her acceptance, Serafina received generous scholarships. “Those scholarships allowed me to follow the clear and strong call I knew was coming from the Lord,” she says. “I want to be a doctor. And coming to Gordon is the first step towards that calling.” 

When Serafina arrived she connected with Dr. Evangeline Cornwell in the Life Sciences Department. In her second year Serafina joined Dr. Cornwell in her research in collaboration with local biomedical facilities in the Greater Boston area. At age 19 Serafina contributed to valuable research in equine eye ulcers––something she felt at the time might be insignificant. 

“Alright, save the horses, I guess!” she laughed, reflecting on the memory. 

Yet this opportunity from the Lord was to hold so much more than she ever expected.

While researching and studying in the lab with Dr. Cornwell, Serafina received professional mentorship and spiritual wisdom that helped her wrestle with questions about the role of the church in America and her value as a Christian in the medical field: “Dr. Cornwell is the model of what it looks like to be a female Christian scientist. I want to be just like her when I grow up!” It was through these powerful conversations and prayer with a beloved professor that God revealed more and more each day that he was calling Serafina into medicine and that she would contribute to healing those in need.

“Not only would Serafina’s research advance beyond the lab––she went on to present at two professional conferences the following year––her research would also extend to the human body. Funded by a grant from the National Institute of Health, Serafina turned to research on human diabetic ulcers, a common symptom of one of the most common diseases in the US. Her work in this area has been recognized by biomedical institutions across the country and has even contributed to the research being done on diabetic ulcer treatments.”

I actually made a difference. My research is leading to healing for many who are suffering. I know more than ever that I want to be a doctor. And I now understand how to do that in a way that honors the Lord, thanks to Dr. Cornwell.”