Please tell us about yourself.
I am currently a senior at Concordia College majoring in biology on the pre-dental route. I’m passionate about creating sustainable change within my community and have been fortunate enough to do so while taking part in multiple projects at Concordia, including my Happy Light Initiative, Discord platform with the Health Professions Interest Club, and others. Outside of school, I enjoy spending time with my family at the lake and taking care of my large collection of houseplants.
Why did you choose Concordia?
When looking for colleges, I wanted a school that combined the traits of being a supportive and welcoming environment alongside having a strong pre-health professions program. Concordia was a no-brainer when I witnessed how tight-knit the community on campus was during my tour, in addition to an incredible pre-health program led by Dr. Julie Rutherford. Additionally, my mom, aunt, and cousin are Cobber alumni who majored in health-related fields. Currently, they are each making a tremendous positive impact within their respective sectors of healthcare, and I wanted to continue that family tradition in my own way through the pursual of dentistry.
How did you decide on your area of study?
Coming into college, I knew I wanted to pursue dentistry, so a biology major and chemistry minor made the most sense. I was able to clear all the pre-requisite courses for dental school within my major/minor and was also able to explore elective courses that I was interested in such as microbiology and mammalogy. Additionally, I had great guidance from all of the biology department faculty who often advise pre-health professional students.
Do you have a favorite course or professor and why?
My favorite courses and professor on campus would have to be both my Inquiry Written Communication Seminar and my Business Writing course I took with Seth Archer. I remember sitting in his class fall of my freshman year scared of the unknowns that came with college, but his approach to teaching students and the wisdom that he shared with us throughout the semester completely changed my view on the journey ahead. He helped me adopt a mindset of fearlessness and courage rather than giving up and changing career paths, and I credit him for a large part of my success as a pre-dental student at Concordia. His class also taught me many valuable writing skills that I was able to put to use when writing essays while applying to dental school this past spring, and his resume assignment in my Business Writing class helped me land a job as a dental assistant!
What campus activities are you involved in?
On campus, I have been involved in the Student Government Association (SGA) as the chief of operations (sophomore) and mental health advocate (senior), Orientation as an Orientation Leader (OL)/First-Year Transition (FYT) mentor (junior) and productions co-coordinator (senior), a student ambassador/tour guide in the Admission Office, and as an executive team member of multiple student organizations including Pre-Dental Club, Health Professions Interest Club (HPIC), Operation Smile, and Greenhouse Club.
Tell us more about the various initiatives and projects you’ve worked on.
I am fortunate to have completed many projects that I am leaving behind at Concordia. My proudest accomplishment would have to be my Happy Light Initiative. Starting in Fall 2023, there will be more than 100 Happy Lights available for student use and to check out around campus. I also built an HPIC Discord channel for all pre-health professions students that serves as an information hub with an abundance of resources ranging from places to shadow in town, statistics charts for graduate programs, and all of the materials used to study for standardized exams. Finally, I am part of the Dental Shadowers Organization on Instagram, which provided students with virtual shadowing opportunities during the height of the pandemic. Our organization has grown to have a following of almost 10,000. We are currently in a transition phase onboarding new members so that we can expand our impact on pre-dental students by providing additional resources including mock interviews, mentors, statistics, and more.
Why did you choose to focus on sustainable change initiatives?
I have always felt a calling to make an impact in a sustainable and long-term way. I personally have never been a huge fan of one-time events or speakers and would rather invest in initiatives that I will be able to come back to Concordia years down the road and see still flourishing without me. I hope my impact is long-lasting on Concordia’s campus and wherever I end up down the road as well.
What is your favorite Concordia tradition and why?
My favorite Concordia tradition hands down is the Orientation program led by Chad Lystad in the Center for Student Success. As a freshman, I came to Concordia extremely shy and soft-spoken. From the moment I stepped foot on campus in Fall 2019, I was welcomed with open arms by faculty, staff, and upperclassmen involved in the Orientation program. Additionally, having built-in friends through our Orientation Club and inquiry seminar helped me come out of my shell and, over time, has helped me evolve into the person I have become today. Since then, I have been involved in Orientation as an Orientation Leader, First-Year Transition mentor, and, finally, as productions co-coordinator my senior year. It was quite the transformative experience this past fall as I hosted the Orientation Welcome Show in front of the 400+ first-years and was able to reflect on how far I had come since sitting in those same seats four years ago.
What was it like being voted Homecoming King?
Oh goodness, I was shocked! It was a complete honor to be voted as Homecoming King by both my friends and peers. Never in a million years would the previous versions of myself think I would come out of my shell far enough to be recognized campuswide, let alone as Concordia’s Homecoming King. I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to represent the very campus that has shaped me into the person I am today and am honored to be joining the long list of some of Concordia’s most notable alumni.
What responsibilities did that entail following Homecoming coronation?
I was able to show off my crown and sash with Miss Zoey Zachek at the Homecoming bonfire, the parade, football game, dance, and more! We even got to (for the first time in history, correctly) spell the infamous C-O-N-C-O-R-D-I-A with President Craft on stage before the bonfire. It was so much fun celebrating with friends and family, especially with my mom being a Cobber grad.
Have you had a PEAK (Pivotal Experience in Applied Knowledge) opportunity and, if so, what did you learn?
The most recent PEAK I was able to complete was an internship with the Red River Valley Dental Access Project facilitated through Concordia’s Career Center. The RRVDAP is a nonprofit dental clinic in the Fargo-Moorhead area that specializes in low-cost dental extractions aimed to provide immediate pain relief for the underserved of our community. As lead volunteer coordinator, I have been immersed in so many aspects of dentistry but, most importantly, have become more educated on the disparities located within our own community. Having this experience has inspired me to tackle these disparities through my vocation as a dentist, and I hope to pursue a dual degree in either public health or law while in dental school to better equip me with the skills and knowledge to most effectively fight these issues once I begin practicing within my community.
What do you value most about your Concordia experience?
For sure the strong community and genuine connections that I will be able to carry with me for the rest of my life. Concordia has granted me so many opportunities to become responsibly engaged in the world, and I am fortunate I had the support on campus to encourage me to be fearless and always shoot for the stars. The people and memories I have made here are priceless, and I will cherish them for the rest of my journey ahead.
What advice would you give to a high school student who is considering Concordia?
What Concordia lacks in size of a college campus is far made up for and outweighed by the abundance of opportunities and connections that you will make in such a supportive community. Once you are on campus as a freshman, I would say don’t be afraid to take risks, put yourself out there and, most importantly, make the most of your surprisingly short four years here in college. I encourage you to find something you’re passionate about and dive headfirst into the opportunities available to you while making genuine connections with those around you, as they are relationships you can carry with you for the rest of your life.
What are your postgraduation plans?
I will be moving out East to Philadelphia for the next four years to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry program and hopefully a dual degree in either a Master of Public Health or a Master in Law. I’m not quite sure what niche of dentistry I’ll end up in, but I am excited to explore the various dental specialties as well as different subsections of general dentistry during my time at UPenn.
What was it like being accepted into an Ivy League school?
I think this may have been even more shocking than being voted as Homecoming King! Throughout my pre-dental journey, I have never been an academically gifted genius and knew I would not be able to stand out through grades or standardized test scores. Instead, I chose to focus on my strengths and was able to shine throughout my many extracurriculars both on campus and beyond. When applying to schools, Penn was a huge reach school that I figured what’s the harm in applying but did not have very high hopes that I would even receive an interview. Fast forward to this past winter and I got the call of a lifetime being offered a seat in Penn Dental Medicine’s Class of 2027.
Published June 2023