Vandal Spirit Forged by Experience
Bout with Lymphoma Determined Who Gilder Would Become
Blazie Gilder’s parents raised her to be a University of Idaho Vandal, and, in her heart, she always knew she’d be one.
But growing up in the small town of Troy, just a few miles east of Moscow, it was tempting to dream of moving far away when it came time for college.
“The truth is,” Gilder said, “I was just being too stubborn to see that I didn't need to travel thousands of miles to get exactly what I was looking for.”
Her grandfather’s farm had provided opportunities to be involved with FFA and other agriculture-related pursuits. After graduating high school in 2019 her friends may have assumed her career choices would be in that direction. But an earlier life experience shaped Gilder’s determination to go a different route.
When she was 11, Gilder was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
“I was in so much pain for so long that I would say my diagnosis was actually a relief for us,” she said.
The diagnosis was followed by a year spent in and out of the hospital for chemotherapy treatments and lumbar punctures. That experience determined who Gilder would become.
“I grew so much as a person during that time, and I learned valuable lessons about myself,” she said. “I learned to not underestimate myself or my abilities, to take advantage of every moment I am given and to be resilient. I know that I would not be the person I am today without having gone through that time.”
Gilder has followed through on those lessons ever since.
In addition to athletics in high school (basketball, softball, cross country), she filled her time with service commitments such as the Latah County Youth Advocacy Council and Idaho Drug-Free Youth.
When it came time for a serious college decision, she found that U of I offered the perfect balance of a home-away-from-home atmosphere combined with opportunities for diverse and exciting experiences.
“Everyone on campus is so welcoming, and I love that I am able to be around people who can challenge my ways of thinking and help me grow in and outside of the classroom,” she said.
At the U of I, she joined the team of student ambassadors for the College of Science.
Her major at U of I was a clear choice. Gilder is pursuing the medical sciences major and pre-health studies minor.
“I’m studying medicine and plan to become a physician,” she said. “I hope to practice in a local hospital as a hematologist-oncologist. I feel blessed by everyone who helped me and my family, but rural areas are underserved in medical fields. I now have unique experiences that will help me to relate to patients.”
Gilder’s positive and enthusiastic attitude toward life is reflected in the advice she tries to live by.
“If you want something, go for it,” she said. “Don't let anyone or anything hold you back from achieving your goals because nobody knows you better than you do.”