Doctor to be: Anya Sellend

The Bridge to Common Ground

As president of the MD class of 2023, Anja Selland sees her role as that of an advocate.

“One of the great things about our medical school is the opportunity we have for feedback, to share how things are going and to give suggestions for how to make things better. That has been a good challenge,” Anja said.

While communication lines have traditionally been open between UND’s School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) students and faculty, Anja says they have become even more so this year. Adapting to virtual learning and a new curriculum, on top of normal expectations of medical school, has required extra time and attention.

With two years of medical school now under her belt, Anja wants to be a bridge to help her classmates not only survive but thrive. At the end of every block, Anja and other class presidents share with SMHS leadership their classmates’ concerns, present solutions and listen.


Scholarships certainly provide financial relief, but they also give you a good sense that there’s a community of people who are hoping for your success .

Growing up in Rugby, North Dakota, with a father running a rural medical practice and a mother pastoring a Lutheran parish also taught Anja how to serve as an advocate for those around her. Before pursuing medical school, Anja spent a year in Moscow, Russia, studying classical ballet, learning Russian and teaching English. That experience gave Anja a different context for understanding the world around her and the patients she’ll treat. 

“Something that is a default viewpoint for me is not the norm [in Russia], but it taught me how I can be really good friends with people who have a different worldview and set of beliefs,” she said. “In relation to medicine, there are going to be patients who may disagree with me or might not follow my recommendations to improve their health, but you can always find common ground.”

Anja is the recipient of the Dr. Christina Tello & Brent Skjerseth Scholarship, the Karen & Elvira Lynner Scholarship and the Dr. Henry Hobart Ruger Trust Grant. Now in her third-year medical rotations, Anja says these scholarships have encouraged her journey. 

“Scholarships certainly provide financial relief, but they also give you a good sense that there’s a community of people who are hoping for your success and acknowledging that this is a long, challenging career path. This kind of support really helps you get through medical school.” 


Learn more about Anja’s passion for Russia, classical ballet and medicine in North Dakota Medicine.


Supporting students like Anja is a necessity. By creating more scholarships, our future healthcare leaders have more opportunities to advance in their education and careers. Help us make a UND education attainable for every student who wants it. 

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