Meet Senior Samantha Gifford, Lansing Promise Scholar

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Senior Samantha Gifford is a biology major with a premedical concentration and a biochemistry minor. She’s also a Lansing Promise Scholar and deeply engaged in campus life as co-president of Alpha Pi Upsilon, vice president of Earthbound and secretary of the Pre-Vet Club. Samantha’s ultimate career goal is to work in a medical or biology-related field, and she’s excited to see what her future will bring.
Read more about Samantha’s college journey firsthand.
I was born and raised in Lansing, and I chose The University of Olivet because I loved the small community feel, the fact that it was a safe distance from home and the possible opportunity to continue my soccer career.
I attended Lansing School District schools while growing up, so I was able to take advantage of the Lansing Promise Scholarship. I was given the monetary equivalence of two free years at community college I was able to apply that money to the tuition here at The University of Olivet; that helped me tremendously.
I have always known I was going into some field of biology or medicine. At my first seminar, I was told that adding a minor was a good way to expand your knowledge and understanding of your major, so I added my biochemistry minor to my biology/premed major. At that point in time, I had decided that veterinary medicine was what I wanted to pursue for my future career. I have always loved being around animals and learning about science and medicine — what better way to put two things I love into one? I have taken courses that will prepare me medically as well as to understand animals. As graduation grows closer, I’m keeping my options open and exploring future paths.
On campus, I am the co-president of Alpha Pi Upsilon (APU) Medical Honors Society and have been for the past two years. I was previously the APU secretary for one year, and I am also one of the “re-founding” members of the club. The club exists to help any student heading into the field of medicine, such as physicians, veterinarians, physical therapists, psychologists or athletic trainers. Being able to lead a smart and determined group of students is a great experience. I enjoy being able to help and work with those on the same desired path as me, as well as aiding those moving into different fields of medicine.
I am also the vice president of Earthbound, and have been for one year, and have been a member for the past three years. I have always been a supporter of a cleaner and greener lifestyle. When I heard that this club has a goal of spreading of the word of helping the environment and taking action, I signed up ASAP.
Lastly, I am the Secretary of the Pre-Vet Club on campus and have been a member for the two years that it has been an organized club on campus. I joined plainly because of my major and career goals.
In addition to my campus involvement, I took Dr. Leah Knapp’s ornithology class during my sophomore year where we were able to travel to Kino Bay, Mexico, for a week! It was my first time traveling outside of the U.S, so I was very excited. I was able to learn about a subject in my field in an entirely different environment. I learned about different cultures and languages, in addition to exotic animals not normally seen in Michigan. It was one of my most memorable experiences here at The University of Olivet.
For the first three years of my college journey, I was a part of the women’s soccer team. Soccer had been a huge part of my life since I can remember and being able to play in college was a dream of mine. I am fortunate to have met some amazing people over the years and I made some really great friends.
I love the professors I have come in contact with over the years. Dr. Leah Knapp, professor of biology, is my adviser and the professor I have had for nearly half my classes — leading us to create a great bond. She has also been an amazing resource for me to ask for guidance in times of stress, confusion or help with future goals. Dr. John Wilterding, Dr. Susanne Lewis, Dr. Frank Bartlett, Dr. Marco Wiedenhoeft and Dr. Blake Reed have all also been great resources for school and personal issues I faced during my time at OC. I am grateful for their support and the guidance they have provided me over the years. My undergraduate journey would have been a lot harder without these people, and they’re one of the main reasons why I love The University of Olivet so much!
I would encourage a student to attend The University of Olivet if they are looking for a hands-on and personal experience with a focus on their future career. Because of the smaller class sizes, you are able to build more relationships with classmates and staff members who all want to see you succeed. I believe everyone at The University of Olivet is very career/future-driven, and when you surround yourself with that mindset, you’ll find yourself following suit. I hope other students know that they should not be afraid to ask for help. If you are struggling, professors are more than happy to get you on the right track and see you succeed.
My experience as a Comet has influenced me to open up as a person. I have learned how to build and maintain relationships. I have learned that relationships are important in careers and affects your likeliness to be successful. I know this characteristic will help me in the future, and I have The University of Olivet to thank for that.
Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admission at 269-749-7635 or admissions@uolivet.edu.


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