Brooke Tienhaara graduated from Michigan Tech in May with a Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science. Now she’s doing a 42-week internship at Ascension Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital in Detroit.
Tienhaara, whose mother is a nurse, always knew that she wanted to work in the medical field. But she wasn’t sure what career would capture her interest. Her sister, Taylor, who also graduated from Michigan Tech in Medical Laboratory Science, thought she would do well in that field too. So Tienhaara decided to give it a try.
A Calumet native, Tienhaara chose Michigan Tech because, she says, “If I went somewhere else, it felt like I would have missed an amazing opportunity to go to a great school that was close to everything and everyone I loved.”
As she entered her junior year, when she would have gotten hands-on experience in the lab, the COVID pandemic hit. “I didn’t do well with online labs,” she says. “I need more structure than that.” She found it hard to concentrate, to focus on her studies. The year before she was due to graduate, she dropped out of school, losing the semester she was in and her final semester.
Coming out of her depression was a slow and difficult process. “It was a team effort,” she says. Her family, friends, therapy, and work at her job all supported her recovery, as well as a healthy helping of Finnish sisu.
“I wanted to get my degree,” Tienhaara explains. “I knew I could do it.”
So she re-enrolled at Michigan Tech, patiently retaking all the classes from the semester she dropped out and finishing her final semester.
She did so well that she was invited to speak at the May 2022 Commencement.
While she was at Tech, Tienhaara was active in the Health Occupations Students of America and Students of Medical Laboratory Science. She volunteered with the university’s food pantry and worked with Autism Speaks, arranging and chaperoning events for children on the autism spectrum. “I really enjoy working with children,” she says.
Tienhaara is excited about her medical laboratory internship in Detroit. “This internship will give me the real-life experience of working in a lab,” she explains. “I’ll be getting to try everything—microbiology, chemistry, hematology, blood banking. It will help me find out what I like best.”
She hopes her future will include some research. “I wish I had gotten involved in research at Michigan Tech, but I didn’t have the chance.”
Tienhaara has some advice for incoming Michigan Tech students. “Take every opportunity that is presented to you. Don’t waste your time here. My only regret is the stuff I didn’t do.”
This blog post initially appeared in the Fall 2022 Biological Sciences Newsletter. Read this article and others like it today.