Student inspired by work ethic, kindness of others

Brisa Arriaga, a junior biology-chemistry major, poses with Dr. Mark Shafer ’88, a dentist who has participated in the Medical Practicum 10 times – once as a student and nine times as a health care professional.

“When I was growing up, I was always a really curious kid and was fascinated by how the world around us works,” said Brisa Arriaga, a junior biology-chemistry major at Manchester University.  

From Plymouth, Ind., Brisa finds inspiration from people she admires. “I was and still am inspired by people’s kindness, work ethic, and their visions of the future, which is partially why I chose my major.”

On campus, Brisa is involved with American Chemical Society and Tri-Beta, the collegiate honor society of biology. She also works as a biology-chemistry peer mentor and has previously worked as the biology-chemistry department secretary and the chemistry stockroom assistant.

Brisa also enjoys volunteering. “I absolutely love volunteering in the science booths for the Walk
Into My Future event we have on campus every year,” she says. “Seeing little kids excited about science and college, especially minorities, makes me motivated to continue becoming a better person and the role model I wish I had growing up.”

One of Brisa’s best experiences at Manchester was participating in the 2020 Medical Practicum in Guatemala this past January. “I not only shadowed physicians,” she said, “but I was also given the opportunity to be an English-to-Spanish translator. I was very hesitant at first and didn’t have the confidence, but my peers, along with the physicians and Dr. (Jeff) Osborne (professor of chemistry), were always giving me words of encouragement, which allowed me to overcome my fears. This experience was incredible and I had the opportunity to develop deeper connections with the people we served.”

Though the Guatemala experience was amazing, it was the small community feel that drew Brisa to Manchester in the first place. “It’s a fairly small campus so you really get to develop deeper connections with your peers and professors. There are only a few colleges like Manchester where your professor will actually invite you over for dinner and I just think that’s really cool.”

After graduation in 2022, Brisa is weighing whether to pursue medical school or graduate school.   

By Jennifer Wagner
Jennifer is a junior biology-chemistry and voice performance major.