|Dr. Jeffrey Sersland
Physicians are a necessity in any community. In order to realize the
dream of becoming a doctor, countless hours of studying are required,
demanding many sleepless nights and several years of education.
However, molding students to become doctors is a completely different
story. It is an intense job, one that requires patience and an overall
love for the profession. This week, The San Pedro Sun is proud to
introduce to you a person who puts all this and more into his career -
Dr. Jeffrey S. Sersland.
Jeffrey Sersland was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA on July
11th, 1964, to Carol and Gerald Sersland. He grew up enjoying a
carefree childhood with his brother and sister.
Dr. Sersland attended Belmont Elementary School and after graduating,
enrolled in South Junior High School. After successfully completing his
junior high studies, he entered Central High School, where he enjoyed
football, wrestling and playing ice hockey with his classmates. During
junior high school and high school, Jeffrey did civil service work at
the Grand Forks Water Maintenance Plant. He recalled doing "anything
and everything" at the water plant. After graduating from Central High
School in 1982, he followed, and supported, his childhood friend Virgil
Hill, a former silver medal Olympian and light heavyweight champ in the
world of boxing. During this time, Dr. Sersland was invited by his
lifelong friend to be a "corner man" in a fight in Minnesota against
Willie Mayberry. Additionally, "on the card" was Leon Spinx, a former
A few years later, Dr. Sersland entered the University of North Dakota
(UND) to study Political Science and Pre-law. After graduating with
honors from UND in 1989, he married Renae Berg, and each went on to
pursue a career in law. Dr. Sersland then enrolled in law school in
Michigan but after a year of studies, realized that law was not
his "cup of tea."
Dr. Sersland next accepted a job with Unger and Associates, a Fortune
500 Company, to oversee Citibank's student loan portfolio. Working
extensively and having to travel three hours to work everyday, Dr.
Sersland decided to accept another offer, working at the College of
DuPage as a Senior Financial Specialist. Within a year, he was promoted
to Director of Financial Aid and worked closely with the board at the
Sometime thereafter, Dr. Sersland and his wife, Renae, made a huge
sacrifice and returned to school at UND to take on Pre-medical studies.
Both, Jeffrey and Renae completed the two-year pre-med program in one
year and began applying to medical schools. "The medical field is very
competitive and even with a science grade point average of 3.61, it is
not enough anymore to walk in the door of a university and study
medicine. Nowadays you have to be in the top 97th percentile for any
university to accept you," he stated. After being placed on an
alternate list at UND, Dr. Sersland realized it was time to take some
drastic measures and moved abroad to study medicine and accomplish his
dream of becoming a physician.
Dr. Sersland moved to Montserrat and registered at the American
University of the Caribbean (AUC). Being in academics for many years,
Dr. Sersland felt like he was not only attending medical school, but
also doing fieldwork for establishing a school of his own. He recalled
taking final examinations with a gas mask on, because the island's
volcano had recently erupted. At that point, AUC moved to St. Maarten,
and the upper classmen were temporarily relocated to Belize to finish
their studies. Classes were conducted in rooms located above the
Biltmore Hotel and the Atlantic Bank in downtown Belize City.
Dr. Jeffrey visited Ambergris Caye for the first time in 1995, and
instantly fell in love with the island and the people. It was at this
time, that he began to plan a medical school for Belize. While still
enrolled in school, Dr. Sersland petitioned the Belize Government for a
charter to operate a medical school. When the charter was granted, he
began the process of leasing property and acquiring faculty for a new
medical school to be located in San Pedro Town. In September of 1997,
Dr. Sersland opened St. Matthew's University (named after his best
friend Matthew Uhrich of North Dakota). Soon after, the Government of
Belize honored him with "The Pioneer Award" for establishing a medical
school within the country of Belize. Meanwhile, Dr. Sersland ran
operations out of California and England while completing his medical
degree. In 1998, he returned to the island to directly oversee
operations from this point onward. The school grew as planned but in
June of 2001, Dr. Sersland was informed that the other shareholders
(representing 56% of the company) no longer wanted to be in Belize. Dr.
Sersland vowed to stay in Belize and continue supporting the people and
the country as a whole.
It was not long before Dr. Sersland received numerous requests to
consult with other medical schools throughout the Caribbean. In the
end, he decided to link with Dr. Fredrick of SABA and Medical
University of the Americas-Nevis to establish another campus. In late
January 2002, Dr. Sersland again began to see his dream take shape as
the Medical University of the Americas Belize was established, this
time, with the proper controls and protection. Dr. Sersland's proudest
moment with the new school came as a result of one of his students, Ken
Nguyen, scoring in the top 1% on the United States Medical Licensing
Examination (USMLE). Today, he is happy to say that MUA Belize has
approximately 70 basic science students and 50 clinical students. With
the assistance of friends and supporters, a new campus building was
constructed in January of 2004. Dr. Sersland stated, "This is
monumental in the sense that there are only six permanent campuses in
the Caribbean, and MUA Nevis, Saba and Belize represent 50% of all
permanent campuses in the Caribbean. This shows long-term commitment
and vision for the students and the country in which we reside."
In his free time, Dr. Sersland enjoys spending time with his family and
traveling around Belize. "I love to travel within Belize and visit my
good friends throughout the country," Dr. Sersland told The San Pedro
Sun. Recently, he took on another responsibility as an owner of the San
Pedro SeaHawks, the island's semi-professional team. "It is an exciting
venture. I never thought that one day I would own and operate my
own 'futbol' club. I love the enthusiasm and the fan support; it is
just amazing to be part of such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
In the near future, Dr. Sersland plans to expand the university to
include a Technical Training Program as well as a full-fledged graduate
program. For the time being, he is content with the decisions he has
made and the path destiny has led him down. "You can not stop dreaming,
it is dreams that make one's life tolerable. No matter the adversity,
never let anyone tell you, that you cannot fulfill your dreams," Dr.
Dr. Sersland is an entrepreneur willing to give as much as he can back
to the people. An outstanding husband and father, with a sincere love
for the country of Belize and its people, Dr. Jeffrey Sersland
has "injected a healthy dose of knowledge" into "Our Community."