Students

Great grads greet the future prepared for careers in health and medicine

5/8/14
by Rachel Griess

The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will confer academic degrees during commencement ceremonies on May 16 and 17. Meet a few of our graduating students, learn about their personal journeys through higher education, and read about the careers they anticipate in health and medicine. Congratulations, grads. You're great!

Jacob Ashby, B.S., microbiology

Ashby is a non-traditional student, who came to campus at an older age, with a full-time job and a family to support. He worked his way through microbiology, commuting for an hour between home and campus. Support from faculty and family were essential to earning his degree.

“The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has a great faculty and staff  who genuinely care. They take the time to ensure topics are understood and want their students to be as successful as they can be,” Ashby said. “I credit my wife the most, as she has kept me focused. Without her, I know I would have never made it through the stress, long days and the seemingly endless workload that often comes with being an adult college student.”

Sarah Glatfelder, M.S., toxicology

Glatfelder came to CSU for graduate studies with a passion for the environment and wildlife conservation, developed through her outdoorsy lifestyle. With a master’s degree in toxicology, she’s prepared to help protect important ecosystems from the negative effects of toxic pollutants. Now she can “stop and smell the roses” as a career.

“This program has shaped me to become diligent,” Glatfelder said. “I think it’s important to stop and smell the roses from time to time and not miss out on life even with the stress of work and school. It’s just a matter of finding that balance that works for you.”

Yanwen Gong, B.S., microbiology

Gong grew up close by a hospital in Xipeng, China, where her father worked as a pediatrician. She often saw children fighting illness with anguished families by their sides. This familiar scene motivated Gong as she entered East China Normal University, and later transferred to the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for studies that would launch her toward a career in pharmaceutical drug development.

“I realized that the pain of disease was not only experienced by the patients themselves, but also deeply rooted in the hearts of their entire families,” Gong said. “My desire to help cure diseases inspired me to come to the U.S. and to pursue a career in biomedicine.”

Alysa Greckel, B.S., biomedical sciences

During her time at CSU, Greckel learned not to drop the ball. She played on the CSU softball team, carried a challenging course load, and lent a hand to other students through the CSU Cultural Mentor Program and Campus Corps. Now she plans to pursue additional schooling to become a physician assistant or nurse practitioner.

“It was extremely rigorous juggling a college sport and the biomedical sciences curriculum. However, all of the stressors were worthwhile because I've enjoyed being a student-athlete and a biomedical sciences student,” Greckel said. “I am very confident BMS has prepared me for any program I will enter. All of my BMS classes were challenging, but so rewarding.”

Elle Killingsworth, B.S., biomedical sciences

Killingsworth excelled in academics, cross country and track at CSU. Yet it was a trying time – the death of her grandparents to cancer – that prompted her to pursue a career in health care.

“My studies in biomedical sciences have prepared me for my future in a number of ways. They have provided ample opportunities to gain knowledge and experience with potential careers,” Killingsworth said. “The college has provided a quality education that is respected within the industry. It has instilled in me a love for CSU and its community, and my major taught me valuable life lessons, such as the importance of hard work, prioritizing and perseverance.”

Dayton McMillan, B.S., environmental health; M.S., health physics

McMillan grew up in rural Cody, Wyo., and during the course of his studies found himself a world away: in Japan, where he studied and conducted research in radiology and advanced radiological medical technology used to treat cancer. It was just one of the research projects McMillan has pursued. He is graduating in the CSU Health Physics program, which simultaneously confers bachelor’s and master’s degrees to students trained to understand radiation.

“I did a lot of difficult manual labor growing up. Getting that perspective on how hard other lines of work are, and how fortunate I have been to pursue an education, has been significant for me,” McMillan said. “It certainly has made me appreciate and maximize the great opportunity it is to work hard in school and to pursue a career that I find interesting and fulfilling. Not everyone gets that chance.”

Sophie Nelson, B.S., biomedical sciences; minor, business administration

You might say Nelson has been active on campus! She was a CSU Admissions Ambassador and worked at a local veterinary clinic. She was a member of Pre-Vet Club, CSU Navigators, RamRide – and gained experience with the Equine Sports Medicine clinical service. Her activities helped Nelson get accepted into our CSU Professional Veterinary Medicine program and the master’s program in Student Affairs in Higher Education.

“I honestly can’t tell you how I’ve been able to do all these things at CSU. I’ve even managed to sleep, eat and study. I am a firm believer in the idea that if you’re passionate about something, you’ll make time for it,” she said. “Most important to my success has been the CVMBS faculty and staff. It’s more than just science, grades and curriculum. They’ve encouraged me to pursue my crazy dreams.”

Keerthi Vemulapalli, B.S., environmental health

Vemulapalli, president of the CSU chapter of Timmy Global Health club, led a group of students on a weeklong service-learning trip to the Dominican Republic to provide free healthcare to banana workers and their families. Through her involvement in health-related research and student clubs, Vemulapalli has developed a passion to help people in need.

“Though the medical experience was awesome, I gained so much from the cultural experience,” Vemulapalli said of her trip to the Dominican Republic. “It’s important that we make ties within the populations we help. We want them to look forward to us coming every year and have our relationship with the community strengthen over time.”

Stephanie Weed, B.S., biomedical sciences; minor, microbiology

At the age of 15, Weed developed alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. That didn’t stop her from pursuing both academics and athletics. At CSU, Weed played water polo, was enrolled in the University Honors Program, and had jobs as both a restaurant assistant manager and a home health-care provider for a quadriplegic student. Now she’s headed for the Creighton University School of Medicine to become a physician.

“Though it is likely my hair will never grow back, seeing a doctor who was able to give a name to my condition and reassure me that I was not alone made all the difference in the world,” Weed said. “I hope I can be source of comfort and reassurance for someone else, just as my doctors have been for me.”

Benjamin Zeter, B.S., micriobiology

During his time at CSU, Zeter battled depression – yet he found relief studying in South Africa and connecting with new people. This summer, he will work in a CSU tuberculosis research lab, where he has gained experience and insights throughout his undergraduate studies. Now Zeter has his eye on graduate studies in immunology and microbiology.

“CVMBS is absolutely outstanding. The courses have provided me with information that is incredibly applicable to my future and have expanded my knowledge in everything regarding microbiology,” Zeter said. “I’m glad I pushed through the difficult times in my life and refocused my attention.”