Alumni Experiences: Biology and Chemistry

Kate (Carr) Sawicki ’14

Kate Carr Sawicki in lab coat

Biology major

Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Indianapolis, Ind., Class of 2018

What are you currently doing (school/job/etc)?

I'm currently a third-year medical student. I am doing my clinical rotations and spend each month in the hospital learning a new specialty of medicine. I am about to apply to pediatric residency programs all over the country. I also just got married!

How did Bethel prepare you for this next phase?

Bethel prepared me for medical school in so many ways. I specifically remember learning invaluable study habits and work ethic with my small study group during organic chemistry. It was the first course that truly challenged me and I had to redefine how I studied. I still used the habits I formed in that class now in medical school! Being a part of the track team at Bethel was another key part in shaping my life. I truly wouldn't be where I am today without learning how to balance my studies with traveling every weekend and 3 hour practices every day. My teammates and coaches were huge motivators and encouragers.

What are some of your highlights at Bethel?

Easily the friendships I made. My coaches and close pole vault crew became my encouragers and reminded me that while school and track were important, they weren't everything in life. I absolutely loved having a close group of friends that supported me and loved me through the ups and downs of college. Another highlight of my Bethel experience was becoming an All-American in the pole vault at numerous national track & field meets throughout my four years.

What are some of your highlights at Bethel specifically in the biology and chemistry department?

Making life-long friends in tough core classes and learning new study habits with them! I spent countless Sundays at the Notre Dame library with my study buddies until the library closed for the night. We made it fun! We had coffee, snacks, discussion when we didn't understand a concept, and silliness when it got close to midnight! Studying became fun for me in college. I can honestly say the friendships and habits I built at Bethel played a pivotal role in getting into medical school.

 

Nate Engbrecht ’02

nate engbrecht in the field

Environmental Biology* and Communication (double major)

What are you currently doing (school/job/etc)?

I am a senior staff scientist at professional infrastructure and environmental consulting firm, Cardno. My day-to-day activities involve working on a variety of ecologically related projects, ranging from wetland construction and restoration projects to conducting endangered wildlife surveys. Off the clock, I have been working on some amphibian monitoring projects in northern Indiana and southern Illinois.

How did Bethel prepare you for this next phase?

My studies at Bethel helped lay the groundwork for launching me into the ecological and natural resources field. While at Bethel, I was involved with two different natural resource projects—one in Indiana and the other in Kansas. These two projects gave me some much-needed early experience in conducting field studies, and led me to making some interesting professional contacts in the field of herpetology.

What are some of your highlights at Bethel?

I can honestly say that I had the time of my life at Bethel. It was a time of great growth and development for me, socially, emotionally and spiritually. I especially enjoyed the dorm life, and getting involved with various campus activities like student council, homecoming and intramural dodgeball.

What are some of your highlights at Bethel specifically in the biology and chemistry department?

While working on a project in eastern Kansas, I had the opportunity to dine with world-renowned herpetologist Joseph Collins and his wife (an excellent wildlife photographer). After dinner, they drove out to our study site, and we spent sometime in the field searching for amphibians and reptiles, and getting photos.

Looking back, it’s fun to remember the comradery that had developed between me and my classmates as we worked through our studies together. The field trips, study sessions, inside jokes; it was a unique time in our lives, and the teamwork helped get us through some tough courses that we may not have survived on our own.

*Environmental Biology is now addressed by Bethel’s biology major.

 

Aubrey Husak '14

audrey husak

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Indiana University School of Medicine Class of 2020

What are you currently doing (school/job/etc)?

I am in medical school at the University of Indiana School of Medicine.

How did Bethel prepare you for this next phase?

Beyond simply the academic side, Bethel did a great job of providing extra opportunities. For example, I was fortunate to be a part of a drosophila research project my senior year of college, I tutored throughout college, and I spent a summer in the Dominican Republic. The professors within the science department were always willing to give me insight on extracurricular to be a competitive applicant for medical school. Furthermore, Bethel tried to teach us that everything you do is for the glory of God. Medical school is not easy, but as Bethel instilled the relationship of God and school I have extra motivation to work my hardest. 

What are some of your highlights at Bethel?

The friendships I created at Bethel are unlike any I have ever had. The friendships include people on the volleyball team (as I was fortunate to represent Bethel playing volleyball) classmates and professors. Bethel is a place you go to make life-long friends. For an example of how great my professors were, I remember many times looking up into the stands to see them supporting me at a volleyball match.

What are some of your highlights at Bethel specifically in the biology and chemistry department?

Again, the friendships I made with people within my classes and with my professors were very special. This past fall, on my first day of medical school, I was honored to see a picture of me and two other people who were starting school that day. It is special when your professor shows support by posting on Facebook how proud she is.

One of my favorite memories is a mock style interview put on by three of my professors. They had prepared interview questions and then gave me advice. Throughout the interview and after I was very humbled to see how proud and excited they were for me. Then, I will never forget that we ended with the three of them praying for me. As I look back, I am just reminded of how much hard work, effort, and care they put into each student and I feel very fortunate to have been a student at Bethel College.

 

Rachel Miller '15

Rachel Miller

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

University of Notre Dame, Department of Biochemistry, Ph.D. candidate

What are you currently doing (school/job/etc)?

I'm in the Ph.D. program in the biochemistry department at the University of Notre Dame. I am currently working on developing biological-based analytical tools for use in low-resource settings.

How did Bethel prepare you for that?

Bethel provided a supportive environment which made my journey to grad school possible. The small class size gave me a chance to work closely with professors and gain lab experience. I also received advice on how to navigate the pursuit of graduate work.

What are some of your highlights at Bethel?

Chapel service. I loved worship and stellar speakers while I was at Bethel and since leaving I've come to appreciate that time even more. Being in a solid community of believers was really important to me. Suite-mate movie nights and baking banana bread to pass out to the girls on my hall are some of my favorite memories.

What are some of your highlights at Bethel specifically in the biology and chemistry department?

I loved participating in the science Bible study, which gave me a chance to spend time in the Word alongside fellow science majors and professors. Late-night study sessions and countless courses really brought our class together. Some nights while studying for organic chemistry exams, my study buddy and I would hide in the basement of the science building, working out chemical reactions until campus safety came to chase us out.

 

Pam Leiter

Rachel Miller

What are you currently doing (school/job/etc)?

I am the Assistant Director of the Museum & Education Department at the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, a county-level park district in Champaign County, Ill. I manage the Homer Lake Interpretive Center, a nature center that serves over 11,000 people each year, and handle programming for all ages. In addition, I oversee all aspects of outdoor educational programming at the District, and partner closely with our sister-facility, the Museum of the Grand Prairie, to offer interdisciplinary programming and other outreach.

I also serve on the boards of several local non-profits, including the Champaign County Audubon Society, Grand Prairie Friends (a land trust), and the Champaign County Museum Network.

How did Bethel prepare you for that?

The connections I made while attending Bethel, as well as the science background, have served me well. For instance, I got my first job in environmental education – at the St Joseph County Park District – largely because the biology professor at the time knew there was an internship opening there.

What are some of your highlights at Bethel?

The close-knit community, small class sizes, and powerful chapel sessions are some of the highlights of my time at Bethel.

What are some of your highlights at Bethel specifically in the biology and chemistry department?

Perhaps the greatest highlight was the summer I spent at Au Sable institute in Michigan, where I gained valuable field experience in ecology and research as well as many fun memories with the friends I made there.