Irène Mathieu ’09
Irène Mathieu did not choose a science major because she wanted to become a doctor. Rather, she became a doctor because of what she learned studying international relations at William & Mary. The interdisciplinary major helped her understand the intersecting forces that shape people’s health, and she realized that she could tangibly impact people’s lives not only by serving as their physician, but also by applying her understanding of these forces to public health and policy.
William & Mary taught Irène how to ask questions, listen deeply and think critically, which are skills she uses daily in her job as an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia. In this role, she practices outpatient pediatrics, runs community-engaged research and advocacy projects, and is assistant director of the Center for Health Humanities and Ethics. While studying medicine at Vanderbilt University provided her with the training she needed, her undergraduate classes in global economics, women’s studies, foreign policy, religious studies and history helped her understand the context of her patients’ lives. William & Mary also taught her how to read deeply, teach herself and innovate. As a result, although she never formally studied creative writing, Irène has published three poetry collections to date, with her next book forthcoming in 2023.