Choose Your Own Adventure: OC’s Biology Program

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Whether you dream of becoming a doctor or veterinarian or have your sights set on field or laboratory work, the OC biology program has a place for you.

The biology major offers a variety of concentrations including ecology/organismal biology, biomedical and pre-medical studies as well as general biology. Students can tailor their experience according to their career interests.

According to Leah Knapp, D.V.M., professor of biology, “courses have a strong focus on practical applications to future vocations and everyday life, with the emphasis on understanding rather than just memorization.”

Through hands-on experiences and training, students develop knowledge and skills in field biology and ecology, laboratory work, medicine and other scientific areas. Students even benefit from interactions with the program’s teaching animals.

“We offer a broad range of classes and learning experiences, some of which are not typically offered in undergraduate programs, which can give students an advantage in applying for graduate programs and employment,” Professor Knapp said.

Senior Kate Morris has benefited from all areas in the biology major and credits the program in helping her expand her perspective.

“I found that my interest lies mainly in medical science, but I feel it is just as important to understand environmental and animal science,” Kate said. “The point is, learning and understanding things outside of your discipline is still important to your education and your career path. You’ll never know what to do unless you step outside your comfort zone.”

Junior Malorie Kiplinger agrees that building awareness of all fields is beneficial to future career opportunities.

“I have become more aware of things going on outside my town, including state and global issues,” Malorie said. “I’ve become more aware of my surroundings and a lot of my classes have pushed me to think outside the box.

“There are thousands of jobs everywhere, and having a medical background and background about the issues going on around you and in the environment is not only helpful to you but to others as well. With that, you could lead the world and become a leader in a career you had no idea existed. It’s a great opportunity to explore new things.”

Thanks to the variety of knowledge she’s developed in the program, junior Taylor Elley feels ready to enter her field.

“My major has prepared me for the professional world by helping me develop my research and communications skills,” Taylor said. “It has also taught me how to think uniquely and to not get frustrated when something does not work on the first try.”

Junior Brittany McDuffie also has benefited from professional and technical experience in the major.

“I have learned people skills and all about the body and how it works — from diseases to toxins to genetics,” she said. “Having good people skills will help in all professions, but for me, it will ease patients’ nerves so they can see I genuinely care.”

One of the hallmarks of OC’s biology program is the personalized attention each student receives from their professors. Both Kate and Taylor emphasize the importance of that guidance.

“We are always working on our resumes and meeting up with advisers to refine our interests and talk about future plans,” Kate said. “It’s hard to fail when there are staff and professors at the ready to help whenever needed.”

“At Olivet, you have direct help from your professors,” Taylor said. “At larger schools, you are just a number, but here you’re a person. The teachers want you to succeed, so they are willing to work with you. My organic chemistry professor, Susanne Lewis, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, even came in on a Sunday once so we could study with her one more time before her final. I know that at a larger school, the professors are not willing to do that.”

Pat Fields, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, also believes that close student-professor relationships are one of the key aspects to students’ success post-graduation.

“Between our faculty working closely with students, the coursework in the major and the strong encouragement of internships and cooperative learning opportunities, the student will learn the tools to not only graduate, but go on to their desired career, and to be successful in their chosen fields,” Professor Fields said. “Many of our courses reinforce the knowledge, build upon previous content and complement the knowledge base in such a way that our students are well-equipped to function in today’s dynamic workplace.”

Kate is grateful for the unique opportunities Olivet has offered her and is excited for what the future holds.

“I feel that biology majors at Olivet get a diverse education and are able to explore many aspects within biology to seek a career path,” Kate said. “I know that Olivet has prepared me in the best way possible to come out on the other side of competitive programs.”

To learn more about OC’s biology program, contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu.


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