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Jack Drummond graduation photo

Once a Pugilist, Now an Aspiring Physician

Incoming medical student Jack Drummond hung up the gloves to pursue a career in medicine.

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Written by Greg Glasgow on July 25, 2023
What You Need To Know

This story is part of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Matriculation coverage highlighting our new students.

Not long ago he was an aspiring professional boxer. Now, as an incoming student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Jack Drummond is taking on a new kind of fight — a fight against disease and for patients as he begins his medical education.

“I was almost a high school dropout, essentially a failure,” says Drummond, 26, who was born in Scotland but grew up in California. “I graduated near the bottom of my class, and I was going to pursue a career as a professional fighter. I was volunteering with some youth sports teams at the time, however, and that inspired me to try and give back to the community in a positive way. I also had a close childhood friend who had leukemia, and that got me interested in cancer research and the field of oncology.”


Drummond in his boxing days.

Those experiences inspired Drummond to take off the gloves and pursue a career in medicine, a path that led him first to community college, where he spent two years on remedial coursework, then to Boston University (BU), where he studied biology as part of a pre-med track.

Inspired by research and working with youth

Working in labs on studies focused on cell biology and muscle cell differentiation gave Drummond the opportunity to learn the basics of medical research while at BU. He also got involved in a pen pal program with children in one of the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Being part of research studies and connecting with the community was a pairing that only strengthened his desire to pursue medicine. 

“The kids I connected with didn’t have a lot of opportunities, but they were still curious and still wanted to do things,” says Drummond, who also worked as a cancer researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia after graduating from BU. “It got me really interested in pediatrics. I did a lot of volunteering at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Whatever specialty I go into, I’d like to inspire kids and maybe start some type of youth program.”

An avid backpacker and hiker, Drummond is interested in emergency medicine and wilderness medicine, as well as radiation oncology, a specialty he was exposed to during his time in Pennsylvania, where he had the chance to shadow several radiation oncologists.

Getting down to business

As he begins medical school, Drummond for now is keeping an open mind on what specialty to pursue and is eager to start learning as much as he can. Drummond, along with 183 classmates, will officially receive their white coats on Friday, July 28, during the CU School of Medicine’s annual Matriculation Ceremony.

“It’s great to finally get down to business,” he says. “It’s been a long time coming. It took an extra year because of the community college classes, and I took three gap years, so it’s great to finally be here and be able to start doing what I’ve been saying I wanted to do for so long. To learn about medicine, to get a deep understanding, and eventually being able to turn that around and help people out. Everyone I’ve met at orientation has been really nice, and I can’t wait to become friends with them and be colleagues with them.”

Lessons from the ring

Though he has left the world of professional fighting behind, there are a few lessons from his boxing days that Drummond plans to take with him into the world of medicine.

“I like boxing because it’s physically challenging but also mentally challenging. It’s like a chess match,” he says. “I know it looks brutal on the surface, but you really have to analyze your opponent and analyze your moves and have a different strategy for every single fight.”

The same can be said for medicine, where every patient and every case requires a new game plan — as well as the ability to adapt as circumstances change.

“There’s a famous Mike Tyson quote: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.’ And that’s really true,” he says. “If you get hit and you’re disoriented and you panic, you’re over. To be able to adapt and change on your feet is something I’ve learned to do over the years.”