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Folks at Noke: Tess Weidenkopf


By Chamberlain Zulauf

Tess Weidenkopf is on the fast track to wearing a white lab coat in either a hospital or on a stage. With a double major in Biochemistry and Theatre Arts she is on the pre-med track.

“I applied to medical schools this past cycle, so fingers crossed, I’ll be going to med school come Fall of 2022,” said Tess. Her top school, University of Pittsburgh, will take her north of her hometown of Springfield VA.

In her professional career she would go more down the route of being an academic physician which would have her doing research on top of clinical work.

“It’s been a thing since I was 8. That little dream of ‘oh, this is what I’ll do when I grow up’ became real over time.”

A big theme in her personal statement for med school was a spout of Lyme disease she endured at 16.

“I was catastrophizing everything at that age, but it put things into perspective and pushed me to follow that dream I had when I was younger… coming to Roanoke I’ve had more emotional moments of realizing the medical field is my element. On the drive back home from my first scribing session at Bradly I cried tears of joy listening to Billy Joel. I felt like I fit right in!”   

Working through COVID-19 also inspired Tess to push harder.

Tess doesn’t have a specific medical specialty in mind but “Neurosurgery and Aerospace Medicine are up there”

You read that right- Tess aspires to be an astronaut doctor. She probably could bring that into fruition too.

The advice Tess has for Maroons is to,

“[not] hesitate to do things! I do a lot of different things in fields that don’t meld together. Don’t be scared to fail. Roanoke is a bubble so it’s okay to fail as long as you work harder and learn from those experiences.”

Pushing herself to find a way to make her variety of interests fit together is Tess’s goal.

“Take advantage of any opportunity you want,” She concludes.



Tess has lived by those words during her time at ‘Noke. A conference at Harvard caught her eye so she emailed her mentor, Dr. Hughes, about her interest while he was on sabbatical. If she had never given the conference a shot, she never would have gotten in and presented on the development of a methodology for CIS nanocrystals, which were the subject of her and Dr. Hughes two-year long research.

You read that right also- nanocrystals. This one I can’t explain.  

Tess compiled their preliminary work done in that research for developing a methodology to submit to Harvard. Along with that she also prepared a poster and abstract on why she chose nanocrystals.

Unfortunately, the conference had to be done over zoom due to COVID, but she would have loved to go and see campus.

In total, Tess’s Roanoke involvement resume is long: She’s done three total years of research for the Chemistry department, is the Vice president of the Chemistry club, Scribes at Bradley, is a nursing assistant at Carilion hospital and of course is heavily involved with the Theatre department.

For her honors project she is helping to design the costumes and set for the Children’s Hour this winter. She also does dramaturgical historical research to find the significance of the show, which she is in as well.

Her favorite role was playing Ulrika Hovstad in An Enemy of the People. “It was my first big role, and it was the antagonist who was interesting to play. An Enemy is all about people seeing truth through science”- a testament Tess can relate to.

The best memory Tess has in the Theatre department is going to London for May Term her freshman year. It was their first night in the city; Top Girls was having its last performance at the National Theater.

“After being up for 24 hours. The second we got to London I was like, I’m seeing this show. I was so exhausted, but it was so worth it,” said Tess.

“I love who I am now and a lot of that is through Roanoke. I’m a completely different person than I was freshman year but I’m grateful that my friends have grown with me.

Tess shouts out: Cliff (Of course), Lexi (Of course) and Caroline (for the ice cream).