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Julie Freischlag

Julie Freischlag

CEO, Wake Forest Baptist Health | Dean, Wake Forest School of Medicine | Class of 1976

Long before she was Dr. Freischlag — internationally recognized chief of surgery at top-ranked hospitals, glass ceiling-shattering dean of two medical schools and CEO of a health system with an operating budget of $3 billion — she was Julie from Second Chance on South Sixth Street.

“I was a member of Pi Beta Phi and lived right there on Wright Street looking at Lincoln Hall. I worked at Second Chance as a waitress for a couple of years — my shift was 9 p.m. to 1 and I remember listening to great music, especially the song ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ by the Eagles, as I worked,” says the CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of the Wake Forest School of Medicine.  

“I also remember writing a check for $5 to cover expenses for the week at the Illini Union. The Quad was the best – no matter what the weather.”

A biology major at Illinois, Freischlag went onto earn her medical degree from Rush University in Chicago and embark on a career filled with “first female surgeon to ...” milestones.

Among them: first chief of vascular surgery at UCLA, first chair of surgery at Johns Hopkins' School of Medicine, first president of the Society for Vascular Surgery and first CEO appointee of a medical institution.