Luke Young ’24, Fargo, North Dakota
Majors/Minors: Biology (pre-med), Neuroscience; Chemistry, Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Please tell us about yourself.

I am currently a junior at Concordia on a pre-medicine pathway intent on attending medical school. I hope to one day become an orthopedic spinal surgeon. I love drinking specialty coffee and cycling all year long. I also love to engage with people over their interests and always love to engage in thoughtful discourse with those in my community.

What inspired your career choice to be an orthopedic spinal surgeon?

My childhood mentor, who is also a close family friend, had a spinal injury. Seeing the pain he underwent and learning about the lack of available care at the time has always stuck with me. He is also someone who taught me some of the core foundations of being a caring person that I look to embody in my patient care.

Why did you choose to attend Concordia?

I wanted an institution that provided smaller class sizes and a more close-knit campus community. I also love being close to home and the amazing opportunities that are available in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Was there a defining moment in your search process?

During my tour of Concordia, I appreciated the positive atmosphere that was present on campus. I also enjoyed hearing about the truthfully transforming opportunities that come from receiving a liberal arts education in a world that is becoming increasingly career centered.

How did you decide on your majors?

I have always had an interest in biology since taking the AP class in my sophomore year of high school. I had never fully considered neuroscience until I sat down with Dr. Krys Strand during my campus tour. She really sparked my interest in the opportunities and interdisciplinary nature of the field.

What campus and off-campus activities are you involved in?

On campus, I am the business manager for the Campus Ministry Commission and transportation intern for the Office of Sustainability. I am currently assisting in the formation of the Student Environmental Alliance. I am also a member of the Tri-Beta, Sigma Zeta, and Nu Rho Psi national honor societies.

Off campus, I love cycling and mountain bike on the local trails throughout the year as well as fat biking during the winter. I participate in group trail rides with local riding clubs during the summer. I am also on-call as a first responder on weekends for Kindred Area Ambulance Service.

What motivated you to become a first responder?

My mom has been a volunteer EMT in my hometown since 2004. I always remember as a kid hearing her pager go off and her springing to action to head to the ambulance garage. I would try to race over to the garage on my bike to watch the flashing lights and sirens of the ambulance go by. I was in every parade and was even found washing the ambulances for fun. As soon as I was old enough to start driving and observing calls, I did.

What are your favorite aspects of being a first responder and what challenges have you had?

I love the helping mindset found among all first responders and the volunteers at rural services are a shining example of this. I love how the community knows and appreciates that there are individuals who are willing to drop everything when the pager goes off. Emergency medicine and prehospital care are also very interesting, and sometimes misunderstood, and I love learning more about the history and changes that have been made during my training. And, to this day, I love the flashing lights and sirens of the ambulance I watched as a kid!

How has Concordia helped prepare you for this experience?

Prehospital care providers must know how to interpret vitals to assist patients in the valuable time between an incident and arriving at a hospital. The education focuses on understanding what treatments are indicated by what vitals you have for a patient. My classes at Concordia have allowed me to understand the deeper scientific reasons behind the conditions we see on the streets. It might be learning the endocrinology of low blood glucose or how different blockages among different areas in the cerebrovasculature present different stroke signs. Concordia has also built my interpersonal skills and ability to understand the need for interdisciplinary understanding even in fields like emergency medicine.

Please tell us about the award you received from the North Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association.

The North Dakota EMS Association established the Rising Star Award to recognize an individual, Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), who is new to the field of pre-hospital care, shows rapid improvement and exemplary skills, and takes on added responsibilities. The nominee must have less than three years of experience and be a current member of the association.

As a newcomer, how did it feel to be recognized by the N.D. EMS Association and receive the Rising Star Award?

I was honored to be recognized in a field of upcoming EMS providers who are also passionate about helping their communities.

What was the focus of your summer research and what were the project goals?

This summer was a continuation of research from last summer focusing on microplastics in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota. Last year, we found 454 microplastics in the digestive tracts of 103 ducks that we analyzed. This year, we continued gut content analysis on ducks from the 2021 duck hunt. On top of this, we had a bigger goal of assessing the prevalence of microplastics in the wetlands of state wildlife management areas near Devils Lake, N.D. We wanted to assess this presence by collecting and analyzing topwater and underwater sediment samples.

How did you learn about that research opportunity and what was the experience like for you?

I learned that research opportunities were available at Concordia during my campus tour. This specific opportunity arose through my first-year advisor, Dr. Jennifer Sweatman. I have gained many skills from my experience doing undergraduate research over the past two summers. The Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (URSCA) program at Concordia allowed me to work closely with faculty members during research. My partners and I were able to play foundational roles in developing methods for our research and play an active role in the whole scientific process from the research, analysis, write-up, publication, and presentation of our work!

In what ways has Concordia helped you grow?

Concordia has helped me understand the overwhelming value of the often-misunderstood liberal arts education. My education has equipped me with the tools to understand and address any problem I am faced with.

Have you had a favorite professor or class and why?

Although I have enjoyed all my classes thus far at Concordia, my Inquiry Seminar (The Mind of Generation Z), during freshman year with Dr. Krejci was very impactful for me. It helped me understand the importance of the education I am receiving and how to become responsibly engaged in our world.

What has been the highlight of your time so far at Concordia?

The opportunities to become involved with multiple different student organizations! The Office of Student Engagement runs an internship every May that gets student organization leaders together to get a head start on programming for the next year. It was truly wonderful to connect with so many students passionate about their organizations and driving positive change for the campus community.

What are you looking forward to this year?

One of my favorite things at Concordia is the chapel and worship services that occur throughout the week. It is a very fulfilling study break and the Campus Ministry office is supportive of so many students on campus.

What do you enjoy about living in the Fargo-Moorhead area?

I love how the metro is small enough that I can bike from West Fargo to Moorhead. I also love the local coffee roasters and restaurants.

What advice would you give to a student considering Concordia?

Although a big college may seem like it has big opportunities that come with it, they don’t match the connections you will make with others when part of a smaller campus community. Concordia has so many influential people that are always around and want to help you succeed. Whether it’s fellow peers, faculty, or the amazing staff that run campus, they all wish to build an open community following the mission of Concordia College. The same applies to the liberal arts education you receive here — it frees the mind to question whatever interests you and provides the tools to tackle problems of all sizes, even if it is not within your major or future career aspirations.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t fear the college application process! There are plenty of people who want you to succeed and your merit in high school does not define you. Your college life will grow you immensely as a person and help you tackle any struggles you may face.

Published October 2022