Class of 2019
When I began my college search, the two most important things to me were soccer and academics. I wanted to play soccer if I was given the opportunity but knew that academics came first. My first visit to Walsh was for a practice with the Men’s Soccer team. I had a great time and felt that I fit in really well with the guys. I did the same thing at a couple other schools and ended up with multiple offers; it came down to the academics and, to me, Walsh couldn’t be beat. The decision I made proved to hold true and I have never once regretted coming to Walsh.
As a commuter, it can be hard to connect with people, but playing soccer helped me to develop life-long bonds easily. Traveling out of the state for soccer games made attending class impossible sometimes, but I found that my professors were incredibly understanding and supportive. I never felt condemned for missing class and the material I would’ve missed was given to me ahead of time or right when I got back so I never missed a beat. Unfortunately, during my sophomore year, I received my sixth major concussion, which ended my soccer career. It was devastating, but I was more worried about losing friends I had made rather than spending time on the field. Much to my delight, everyone supported my decision to step back and we are all great friends to this day. While I was sad to see soccer go, it allowed me to pursue something I hadn’t yet realized I was passionate about, research.
When I came to Walsh, I had the end goal of medical school in mind thinking that it was what I wanted to do. During my freshman Biology class, Dr. Thomas Freeland mentioned research opportunities, and with medical school applications in mind, I decided I should probably get involved. As I continued working in the lab, I discovered that not only was I good at research, but I also really enjoyed it. I was able to then get my name on a minor publication and this was an incredible feeling to me. I began to realize what I was truly passionate about.
Last summer, I was given the opportunity to go on a six-week research internship at Michigan State University. My professor, Dr. Adam Underwood, sent me to work for Dr. Jeremy Prokop in one of the greatest life experiences I have had. I worked on a SOX protein family project that required me to culture and maintain a human primary cell line, HDLEC (human dermal lymphatic endothelial cells), and design transfection protocol to deliver both a mutated and unmutated strain of SOX18. In addition, I was researching and designing my own bioinformatics-based project and gathering information to support my hypothesis. It is designed around DNA mismatch-repair protein PMS1 and is still being worked on currently. The work that I, along with Dr. Prokop and collaborators from Australia, conducted on SOX proteins was written into a manuscript and submitted to Nature where it is currently still in review. I have a middle author spot on the manuscript and presented aspects of our work at the Experimental Biology conference in Orlando, Florida. Research has shaped my Walsh experience and helped me to discover what I wanted to do. I have come to realize that I don’t need to be a doctor in the exam room to help people; instead, I can help them through my research.
The people here are what makes Walsh. It is because of Dr. Freeland and Dr. Adam Underwood that I was able to get my research internship. There was a time when I found myself struggling and made the decision to visit Counseling Services. They were wonderful to me because they understand that sometimes things are just a little too much to handle alone and there is no shame in asking for help. Matt McClain in the tutoring center personally asked me to get involved with tutoring. Dr. Jacqueline Novak, Dr. Michael Dunphy, Dr. Thomas Freeland, Dr. Adam Underwood and Dr. Dinah Qutob have acted as mentors and been tremendous in helping me through these past four years and supported me through every decision along the way. Even President Jusseaume has been an incredible benefit, and not many students can say that they know the president of their university. There are so many people here who have been influential in my life and everyone at Walsh goes above and beyond what they need to do to make sure that the students succeed. There may be similar schools around, but Walsh stands out among the rest. We have a community like none other.