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UW Biology alumnus Dr. Greg Walker featured in Seattle Times profile

Thursday, October 7, 2021 - 08:15

UW Biology alumnus Dr. Greg Walker was featured in The Seattle Times. Dr. Walker was a Biology student and then an undergraduate TA for Biology 200 while he was in school at the University of Washington, all while simultaneously juggling being on the UW football team. Dr. Walker is now an orthopedic resident doctor with UW Medicine.

Excerpted from The Seattle Times article:

The blood didn’t even bother him.

Inside a hospital operating room in Senatobia, Mississippi, Walker Jr. was allowed for the first time to watch his father work. An experienced obstetrician and gynecologist, Greg Walker Sr. completed a successful cesarean section — which requires incisions in the uterus and abdomen to deliver a child.

Meanwhile, his son studied everything. He didn’t faint or freeze. The 4-year-old focused.

“I remember a lot,” Greg Walker Jr. said 27 years later. “To be honest, I remember looking at all the tools. I don’t think I was tall enough to see onto the operator field, but I remember watching all the tools going to the operator. I remember watching my dad in his scrubs. He had me dressed up in scrubs, too, and I just remember watching his hands work.”

To be honest, Greg Jr. probably remembers much more than the baby’s father.

“The father fainted,” Greg Jr. said with a laugh, “and my dad teased him about it later. He was like, ‘Man, my son’s 4 years old, and he didn’t faint.’”

Instead, he plotted his future.

“I ended up falling in love with it there — wanting to be like my dad, wanting to be a surgeon,” he said. “So literally everything I did in my life was (geared toward) how do I make that happen?”

Which is when something else happened he didn’t expect.

“I kind of just got good at football.”

So good, in fact, that Walker starred as a linebacker and running back at St. Bernard High School in Bellflower, California — posting 120 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions in his senior season in 2007. So good that he earned all-league, all-area and all-CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) honors along the way. So good that eventually, inevitably, colleges came calling.

But in the recruiting process, football didn’t come first.

“Washington kind of separated itself, one, because of (former head coach) Tyrone Willingham,” Walker said. “I trusted him. I really liked the guy. I knew he valued me not just as a football player but as a human being. He helped me grow into a man. I talked to him about how I wanted to do pre-med and it would require me to take some courses that would interfere with football a little bit. Obviously I’m going to give it my all to do football and school as much as possible, but (becoming a doctor) is my No. 1 goal.

“Then me and my dad talked about it, and I knew Washington had a long history of being very good in medicine. I think they were No. 1 in primary care at the time. So I felt like it was a good city to be in and a place where medicine was kind of booming and doing well. I just thought it would be a good place for me to flourish.”

But he didn’t flourish — at least, on the field. While Walker redshirted, UW disintegrated. A program-worst 0-12 season forced Willingham’s firing, and the subsequent hire of Steve Sarkisian. After sliding back to safety, Walker made his first career start as a redshirt freshman in a nationally televised season opener against LSU.   

And even then, it wasn’t a dream debut. With 69,161 stuffed inside Husky Stadium on Sept. 5, 2009, Walker missed two tackles that sprung LSU wide receiver Terrence Toliver for touchdowns of 45 and 39 yards, the difference in an eventual 31-23 defeat.

“Boy, he has really victimized Greg Walker,” ESPN play-by-play announcer Mark Jones said after Toliver’s second touchdown of the night.

Added Walker, “I think that killed my confidence a little bit.”

Regardless, Walker never stopped working. While pursuing a general biology degree, he spent the next three seasons quietly excelling on special teams — and attempting to reclaim the starting spot that inexhaustibly eluded him.

Read the full article in The Seattle Times.

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