Wolf and Keeley preparing for careers in medicine

Delaney Wolf B’21, C’22 and Jordan Keeley B’22, M’23 have supported and challenged each other for years.

It was only natural that the two form a friendship and a bond, considering they have so much in common.

Both played on the Cardinal women’s hockey team at Saint Mary’s, both serving as captains.

Both studied the sciences, (Wolf biochemistry and Spanish, and Keeley Biology-Pre-Physical Therapy and also Leadership).

Both continued their education at Saint Mary’s beyond their undergraduate degrees (Wolf earning a certificate in Healthcare Administration in 2022 and Keeley earning her master’s in Organizational Leadership in 2023).

Both are passionate about service, with lengthy volunteer activity lists. In fact, because of this strong commitment, both were nominated for the Hockey Humanitarian Award (a national award, presented annually to a hockey student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism). Wolf took home the award in 2021.

Now, both are studying medicine at Duke University Medical School, (Wolf in the M.D. program and Keeley in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program).

Wolf has known since high school that she wanted to go into healthcare. She started down that career path as a CNA. “I really wanted to be more involved with helping patients find out what’s going on and manage that,” she said. Though she had been looking at endocrinology and neurology, she’s using this time to learn more about different specialties and career opportunities.

Keeley, likewise, has always been interested in science, particularly how our bodies work, and the relationship between exercise and movement. Then, she tore her labrum in her hip her sophomore year and was given the option of going to physical therapy or having surgery. “I opted for PT, hoping I could still play. And I got back into shape, even better than where I was before,” she said. “That was my aha moment. I knew I wanted to help people get back to doing what they love to do.”

The two say their connection has been valuable, on the ice and off.

“We both wanted to find meaningful ways to interact with people, so we fed off of each other’s goal to do service activities,” Wolf said. “And obviously we both share the healthcare interest, so we can work on classwork together and talk about science.”

“I think Delaney and I like to compete in many aspects of our lives, even in practice,” Keeley added. “We rope each other into a lot of commitments that way. There are many things I wouldn’t have tried or done if it wasn’t for her.”

Both believe that one trait of a good leader is that they’re interested in developing other leaders.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of women are focused on developing leaders of the next generation,” Keeley said. “Women in leadership roles are aware that they have been supported by other women and are conscious about helping other women into similar roles or mentoring them.”

Wolf agrees. “Of all the women leaders I know, they’ve all been very invested in developing other leaders: Our coach focused on not just being better athletes but better community members. Our faculty provided us with opportunities to meet other women to develop connections and help us determine where we want to go,” she said. “The ones who are good leaders are the ones who want the best for people they are helping.”

They each believe women bring an important perspective to health care.

“Even as a little girl, we are taught to think about other people and how what you are doing is impacting other people,” Keeley said. “When women get into leadership roles, it’s like second nature. Many of my mentors have been interested in developing the emotional piece of leadership. Being emotional and vulnerable are our hidden super talents that make us effective leaders.

“Healthcare providers talk a lot about understanding and recognizing the patient as a whole person,” she added. “I can teach someone to walk better, and Delaney can prescribe medications but we also need to recognize if there are other factors impacting patients positively and negatively, maybe socioeconomic factors. We have to recognize them as a whole person in order to provide the best level of care.”

Wolf added, “I feel like being a woman has helped me stay open minded to that. We learn to relate to others. I’m hearing not just women leaders, but also male leaders, who are bringing everyone together to the same page. That shift is going to let us make a bigger impact in the future. Through common thought, we can make a shift to help patients who face disadvantages due to race, gender, sexuality, or ethnicity.”

Both also believe a passion for service plays an important role in leadership.

“In general I think that in order to effectively lead people, we have to be able to serve them,” Keeley said.

“Servant leadership is a partnership,” Wolf added. “Everybody involved has a role; as a provider, your role is to diagnose or treat; the patient has a role to be honest. There needs to be an exchange of trust. We need the patient to feel comfortable enough to share something they may not feel is related. It’s about really listening …”

Both alumnae believe leadership thrives best in a supportive environment like they found at Saint Mary’s. “

“At Saint Mary’s, I had a real community that became a home outside of my family,” Wolf said. “The people I found there wanted what was best for me. Finding that support was huge.”

“I honestly can’t rave enough about my experience at Saint Mary’s,” Keeley added. “Every time you ask someone from Saint Mary’s what their favorite part about the university is, they’ll tell you it’s the community. Everybody is intentional about building deep and meaningful and thoughtful relationships. That’s honestly what built me into who I am now.”

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