Dr. Stephen “Andy” Sems ’95
Renowned orthopaedic surgeon and Grove City College alumnus Dr. Stephen “Andy” Sems ’95 will address graduates of the College’s 142nd Commencement exercise at 10 a.m. May 14 on campus.
Sems is widely regarded internationally for his innovative and revolutionary approach to treating people with congenital, developmental, and traumatic limb deformities. His work repairing and regenerating malformed and broken bones has improved countless lives.
“Dr. Sems is one of our most accomplished alumni. He is an amazing healer and teacher and a prime example of how one can succeed with the firm undergraduate foundation that a Grove City College education provides. His landmark work has revolutionized a field of medicine and the results are truly life changing for patients relieved of their suffering. He is an exemplar of the kind of servant leader that we seek to send out into the world to make a difference,” Grove City College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 said. “Dr. Sems’ academic focus and career path illustrate superbly the College’s strategic objective of connecting our outstanding engineering program with the field of health sciences.”
A native of Chardon, Ohio, Sems wanted to be a doctor since he broke his arm in sixth grade and, under local anesthetic, watched and listened as doctors operated. His career path took him to Grove City College, where he studied mechanical engineering with the aim of applying that knowledge to medicine. Sems was also a standout on the Wolverine football team and was named Sportsman of the Year in 1995.
After graduating summa cum laude from the College, Sems completed his medical training at The Ohio State University and his orthopeadic surgery residency at The Cleveland Clinic, with fellowships in Austria and at the University of Minnesota/Hennepin County Medical Center.
Since 2005, he has been affiliated with the world-famous Mayo Clinic, where he oversees the Limb Lengthening and Regeneration Clinic. He is part of team of doctors working to repair bones, improve and restore function, and allow normal alignment of the body. The process involves complex surgery and the use of implanted metal rods and external fixators – custom-designed devices that guide bone growth and require near daily adjustment.
Sems said he approaches his work “one patient at a time,” tailoring care to their individual needs and circumstances. Successful treatment, he said, can have a “massive impact on quality of life.” The effort requires surgical skill and mechanical know-how.
“A lot of the work involves mechanical engineering. There’s an intimate relationship between what I learned at Grove City College and what I do daily,” Sems said.
His years studying at the College prepared him for medical school better than most of his peers, Sems said. “Grove City taught me how to learn and how to think. It required me to learn and think,” he said. “It forced me to use my mind in a problem-solving way, to have an understanding and an ability to find answers.”
Sems isn’t sure what he will tell graduates at commencement, but he’s likely to advise them to apply their education in service to others and “leave the world a better place than they found it” – just like he has.
He lives in Rochester, Minn., with his wife Heidi (Dymond ’93) Sems and their children Monica, Luke, Caroline, and Charlie.