Purposeful Lives

Jana D., senior, biology/pre-med (far left)

Jana D.

Originally, I was an undecided major when I arrived at Schreiner. I had considered careers in journalism, music and medicine, but none of these stuck out to me. At that point in time I had a hard time envisioning myself in any field. I couldn’t even say what motivated or inspired me. It took three years and many diverse experiences to refine my aspirations to what they are today.
 
My interest in science came a lot later than most science majors would be comfortable to admit. It began with my concepts of biology class with Dr. Stevens and my zoology class with Dr. Distel freshman year. I had never been a fan of biology in high school nor was I ever good at it—yet these classes provided me with just the right environment to explore the field and make it my own. The hands-on experiences in lab and engagement in class—though challenging—helped me to realize my potential. My greatest challenge came when I took organic chemistry my sophomore year. At this point, my resolve in becoming a biology major had been weakened. I had never struggled so much in a course before, however, Dr. Vines showed me what I could accomplish with perseverance. The class taught me there is a lot I still don’t know and pushed me to study harder. This experience would prove prophetic for the rest of my undergraduate career. Each science course I took presented a new challenge I needed to overcome. The foundations of my goal to become a physician and public health practitioner would be founded on the experiences and knowledge I gained through my courses.

Campus ministry was the first group on campus I officially joined. It was also the first group that impacted me through service work. During spring break my freshman year, we took a service trip to Denver to work with several non-profit organizations in the area. These organizations included Denver Urban Ministries and the Crossing. We were given the chance to walk through some of the poorest neighborhoods in Denver, experience the life of someone in poverty and directly touch the lives of those greatly affected by poverty. Volunteering each day, sleeping on the floor in the basement of a Methodist church, and sharing experiences with fellow students had a profound impact on the outlook I’d have for the rest of my four years. What surprised me were the different types of poverty a person could experience. People often associate poverty with not having enough money, but there is also poverty in loneliness. Even more surprising was the amount of poverty that existed here, in our own backyards. Until then, I always felt disconnected from the idea. I had the desire to help, but I could never wrap my head around how big the problem was. Finally having the opportunity to lift that burden of poverty— in whatever way possible—was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. It’s the reason that I continue to serve today.

Following Denver, I wanted to continue giving back however I could. This is what led me to serve as a freshman peer minister my sophomore and junior years. I wanted to serve as a mentor to the freshmen and help them through some of the difficult challenges they’d experience as they transitioned into college life. I understood the struggles they would soon face. I wanted to be there to help them develop as individuals. Sharing my experiences transitioning into college life with the freshmen helped me learn more about myself and how far I had come.

As a physician, I want to fulfill the roles of a healer, teacher and companion to my patients. My experiences as an undergraduate helped me discover my passions and understand my potential. I owe much of my development in those experiences to my time here at Schreiner.
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