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Military Health System

From Sabers to Syringes: Olympic Fencer Begins Military Medical Career

Image of Eliza Stone. Eliza Stone

Navy Ensign Eliza Stone, an Olympic fencer, joined the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) School of Medicine this year.

She brings tenaciousness and drive and knows a thing or two about working alongside teammates who continually lift up one another. Stone foresees these skills being essential as she works her way through medical school and embarks on a career as a military physician.

"The whole point of fencing is to win the bout regardless of the opponent or outside circumstances," Stone said.

She explained that fencing is not as simple as picking up a saber and taking a swing at one another, as some might think. It's also similar to medical school in that it requires a lot of training and application of learned skills, she said.

There are also complicated strategies, the study of your opponent's psyche, and knowing what choices to make.

The bouts become a flurry of moves and counters with mental "traps"; happening in quick succession.

Stone competed at on the international fencing circuit and would ultimately rank fourth in the sport. She medaled in the 2018 World Championship, won the 2019 Pan American Games, and made it to the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

"Going to Tokyo was one of the biggest honors of my life because it was the culmination of years and years of hard work," Stone said.

While she was on the international circuit, a seed grew that had been planted in her childhood. Stone's grandfathers were doctors in the Army and Navy during World War II, one of whom was at the Pearl Harbor attack.

Her view of her grandfathers resonated with her over the years, and solidified her decision to go to medical school after earning her undergraduate degree.

"In college, I studied political philosophy and the ideas behind how to construct a perfect society, using whatever ideals and experiences you think might be most effective in producing a happy and productive society. It was very esoteric stuff," she explained. "But studying that made me think about how I ought to be fitting into the bigger picture. The idea of utility stuck in my mind. When I tried to find out how to be useful, I kept coming back to medicine."

"The idea of serving my country and taking part in humanitarian missions and supporting communities around the world as a physician especially fit into my idea of being as useful as possible [which] once again, is why I chose military medicine."

With her decision made, Stone went on to complete her post-baccalaureate premedical program at Rider University.

"The lessons Stone learned throughout her fencing career will stay with her and influence her military career.

"No one makes it to medical school without a huge amount of focus and dedication and ability to perform under pressure," Stone said. "I'm honored to have been allowed to join the community here at USU, and to be included as a member of the class of 2026."

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Last Updated: September 07, 2022
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