I am both honored and blessed to have been given the opportunity to address all of you. My three years and nine months here have not been wasted, and I truly feel as though I have a compelling story to share. I arrived at Manchester College a very raucous young kid, with every intention to succeed and have fun. I decided to major in biology-chemistry with the intention to go to professional school. My game plan was to attend class and do homework; this worked in high school.
I soon realized that is not exactly how college works, and with the assistance of my Principles of Biology teacher, Dr. Sweeten, I began learning how to study. The summer of my freshman year I was given the opportunity to travel to the Bahamas for a class in field ecology with Dr. Sweeten. I sold my parents with the guilt of, “I have never been outside of the States.” It was an amazing experience that should not have counted for credits; we spent our days on the beach or snorkeling. My group claimed we were searching and measuring signs of coral bleaching, but I think we were just staring and estimating mostly while enjoying the water. But I did learn a good deal about research and the importance of having a defined experimental plan or set up.
The next January term presented a true once-in-a-lifetime chance to travel to Nicaragua for the Medical Practicum, coordinated by Dr. Osborne, my advisor. This was a much harder sell for my parents due to cost. But the experience turned out to be priceless. We were able to serve the people of Cuidad Antiqua while gaining medical insight that most would not receive until professional school. However, the most rewarding aspect of this trip was simply serving others that truly needed help. While in Nicaragua, I was able to work with Dr. Mark Shafer and he helped me to build a passion for the next journey that I will embark on at The University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry.
Though I had a passion for dentistry, passion does not always breed success. Dr. Osborne was a complete realist, and this helped me dramatically, because he knew what I needed to do in order to follow this passion and reach my goals that I had instilled in myself. Furthermore, he knew what I was capable of and this enabled him to help me set attainable goals. Though I am sure he had confidence in me academically we did discuss back up plans, to be realistic, of course. Then he assisted me in the acquisition of a clinical research internship at Biomet in the summer of 2009 to test run a possible back up plan. I learned a ton about clinical trials and all the work put in to get medical products to market, but this further solidified the idea that I did not want to just push papers at a desk.
Last summer I was given the opportunity, through a college program called Pathways, to test run my current plan by working with Dr. Jones, a dentist in Kansas City, Kan. While working with Dr. Jones, I was entrusted with many procedures and given exposure to a very wide array of dental problems. Dr. Jones also showed the amount of good that you can do by helping people, and he acted every chance he saw to do much: He once did a root canal for $40. Not only was I able to work in dentistry, but I was also put in charge organizing a youth group of sorts for the church where I was staying. The culture in this area was extremely unique, and initially intimidating since it was very much inner city. It was all of these experience combined have been crucial to who I am and where I am going.
My time at MC has helped me to grow morally, academically, and spiritually. I believe the faculty here is world class, and they are always willing to talk about anything and they make time to do so. All of the faculty members have played a pivotal role in truly helping all of us define ourselves. Martin Luther King said, “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” And this is exactly what I have received from Manchester College.