Mary Frances Dennis Furman University

Class of 2018
Hometown: Augusta, GA

For someone who wants to go to law school or medical school, you couldn’t ask for a better experience.

In her first week on the job, Mary Frances Dennis was sitting with a physician and an administrative assistant, helping them complete an affidavit that would allow a patient’s case to proceed to court.

Dennis is the first intern assigned to the new South Carolina Medical Legal Partnership (MLP), which formally connects Furman University, the Greenville Health System and South Carolina Legal Services in work to improve health outcomes for people throughout the Upstate, especially those living in poverty.

The partnership—the first of its kind in South Carolina—coordinates and streamlines access to non-medical assistance when a medical problem has roots in or is made worse by a social or legal problem.

“For someone who wants to go to law school or medical school, you couldn’t ask for a better experience,” Dennis said. “I’m learning something new every day.”

The MLP acknowledges the reality that time spent in a doctor’s office is only a small fraction of what goes into a person’s overall health.

“It’s recognizing that the fullness of healthcare policy has to be concerned with a lot more than healthcare,” said David Gandolfo, a philosophy professor and chair of the poverty studies program at Furman. “We believe that it really is a way of getting better health outcomes for the poor."

Gandolfo is confident Furman students bring the maturity and skills needed to the MLP. Their liberal arts training has prepared them to connect unconnected dots with innovation and new thinking.

The work interns observe and participate in will not only be useful to the MLP but also in shaping students’ understanding of their own potential.

“It gives the students the chance to engage a real problem where real people are being hurt and get a feel for how can their talents and energy and their knowledge be used . . .  to make people’s lives better,” Gandolfo said. “It’s really motivating to see that your studies make you useful.”

On her side, Dennis is paving the way for future interns, building the job description as she goes.

“It’s my job to say, ‘This is what I want to do. Can I do this?’” she said.

It’s a dream come true for Dennis, who’s the daughter of a nurse but the first person in her family with an interest in law.

“I’ve always been interested in how health plays a role in people’s overall success,” she said. “It’s potentially what I want to do with my career—so I feel pretty lucky.”

Connect with Admission

Furman is one of the nation's premier liberal arts and sciences universities. We offer our students The Furman Advantage—an over-arching approach to education that promises every student a four-year personalized pathway, a team of advisors and mentors, and the opportunity for an engaged learning experience that is tracked and integrated with the students' academic and professional goals.

Want more information about the admission process at Furman?

Contact us

Once you see our campus, making the right college decision will be so much easier.

Plan a visit

Undergraduate Evening Studies provides adults the opportunity to receive an education from one of the premier liberal arts universities in the nation.

Whether you are starting or continuing your education, or have been away from the classroom for a few months or several years, our program provides many services to assist you with accomplishing your educational and professional goals.

Apply now

Our graduate studies program is designed for the professional educator.

We know the challenges teachers and administrators face every day, and we are committed to helping you become a leader within your school system or district.

Apply now
  • Furman University