President’s Circle member Betsy (Nienhuis ’02) Furukawa, M.D., was a true scholar-athlete while attending Vanguard. She balanced being a biology major and chemistry minor with being a member of the women’s soccer team.
Betsy earned her medical degree from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 2006, where she met and married her husband Brian Furukawa. From 2013-16, she was chief of the dermatology service at the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Administration in Charleston as well as a faculty member at the Medical University of South Carolina. Betsy is an assistant professor of dermatology and associate program director of the dermatology residency at Loma Linda University. She is also the dermatology service line chief at the Riverside University Health System. Betsy and Brian have three children, Grace (10), Samuel (8), and Wesley (3).
How were you cared for as a Vanguard student?
I had the privilege of having coaches and faculty members allow me to be creative in finding a balance between being an athlete and a pre-med major. There were many times I left class early and arrived to practice late, but I was always met with understanding and support. I also remember the amount of encouragement I received from our head women’s soccer coach Kerry Crooks, who would even meet me for workouts in the spring and summer.
What is a favorite Vanguard University memory?
On 9-11-01, I remember being with the team at an away game, staying in a hotel in Omaha, Nebraska, and just how impactful that day was on so many levels. What stands out, making it a favorite memory, is that the VU administration found a way to charter a bus to drive us home as flights were grounded. They drove us straight through the night to get us home.
How were you different from when you started at Vanguard than when you graduated?
I found my passion for science and learning at Vanguard. The pre-med program taught me how to study, how to learn, and how to dedicate myself. I entered medical school a step ahead of my classmates as I knew how to study and apply myself because of the rigorous pre-med curriculum at VU.
How do you describe VU to people who are not familiar with it?
I tell people that it is a hidden gem: a Christian university with competitive athletics, and from my experience, a highly applicable pre-med program that may go overlooked because of its small stature.
Why do you choose to support Vanguard University?
I support VU to give back in appreciation for the education and foundation I was given while a student there. I specifically support women’s soccer so that those athletes can have access to the equipment and surroundings they need to feel supported as student-athletes.
How have you seen Vanguard change since you were a student?
The VU campus has changed significantly since I was a student. The amount of building, remodeling, and specific improvements in the soccer field are truly impressive.
What is your prayer for Vanguard University?
I pray that VU will continue to produce graduates that love Jesus and are equipped from a spiritual and educational standpoint to enter and succeed as professionals in a fallen world that needs to hear the Gospel on all levels.
How have you seen the Lord’s provision for Vanguard displayed?
I am continually impressed with the amount of growth and financial support given by alumni toward the needs and vision of the University. God is good.