Category: Student Stories

Students who are pursuing a pre-health concentration at Michigan Technological University

Full Circle: A Tech Alumna and Local Chiropractor Returns Home

Dr. Amanda (Crane) Deyaert

Dr. Amanda (Crane) Deyaert, DC, CACCP, knew she wanted to become a chiropractor when she was just a teenager. At the age of 14, she was a dedicated athlete participating in basketball, volleyball, figure-skating, and track when she first started receiving adjustments for various sports injuries. Over the next few years, she was treated by local chiropractors Dr. David Hill, Dr. Kemmy Taylor, and Dr. Mischa Doman. It was then her interest in kinesiology—the study of movement—was born.

A Chiropractor’s Academic Journey

After high school graduation, Dr. Amanda (as she likes to be called) started her BS in Exercise Science at Michigan Tech. As one of the most common undergraduate majors chosen by pre-health students, she said the degree made sense with its focus on kinesiology and integrated physiology. Supporting her continued fascination with body movement, the Motor Development and Biomechanics of Human Movement courses were her favorites. And because an exercise science degree could also prepare students for careers in physical therapy, athletic training, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, etc., Dr. Amanda said she chose it to keep her options open just in case her interests changed during her undergraduate studies. They didn’t.

After graduating from Tech, Dr. Amanda attended Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota and received her Doctorate of Chiropractic in 2016. She said her coursework at Tech adequately prepared her for her graduate school experience, and that “the combination of lecture and laboratory classes in anatomy and physiology, and other pre-health subjects gave [her] a solid foundation to build upon in the chiropractic program.” However, in addition to preparatory coursework, Dr. Amanda also recommended shadowing local health professionals to get a greater sense of the profession. She herself had this opportunity when she shadowed Dr. Kemmy (who is also MTU’s Pre-Health Programs Director) and Dr. Mischa of Superior Family Chiropractic almost 15 years ago as an MTU student. The ultimate result? An invitation to join the practice almost a decade later.

Clinical Practice and Specialized Training for Chiropractors

Dr. Amanda treating a young patient

But first Dr. Amanda had to leave her beloved hometown of Chassell. She studied and worked in Minnesota for many years, garnering the most important perspectives and experiences a big city offers: diversity and specialization. Dr. Amanda practiced in Shakopee, MN, for almost four years and had clinical rotations with the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center (a healthcare program at the homeless shelter in downtown Minneapolis) and the Pillsbury House Integrated Health Clinic: a student-run, free holistic healthcare clinic. She brought this training back to the UP. 

These experiences in the Twin Cities widened her eyes to the challenges of living in a small town. For example, access to specialty care can be very difficult in remote towns and rural areas. Between the length of time for referrals and great travel distances, many patients are frustrated. She finds it very meaningful to be able to provide a specialized service to her community.

Chiropractic Care From Pregnancy To Pediatrics

Dr. Amanda offers pregnancy care

And the services she offers in chiropractic health are specialized.  She is one of the few pediatric and prenatal chiropractors offering services in the UP right now, and she said the local response has been overwhelming as many people are looking for natural healthcare. Dr. Amanda is certified in the Webster Technique for Pregnancy and CACCP, a pediatric certification through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). As both a practitioner and the mother of two young daughters, she says the benefits of pediatric, prenatal, and postpartum chiropractic care are undeniable. As children grow fast, they might experience injuries or pain during a growth spurt. Using a variety of low-force adjustment techniques can remove nerve irritation as a child grows.

Pediatric chiropractic care has also been proven to encourage brain and nerve development, assist with colic and reflux, and help with constipation and bedwetting issues, among many other benefits. And as women’s bodies also change quickly during and after pregnancy, chiropractic care can help with optimal pelvic alignment, decreased back pain, and more comfort while breastfeeding. Dr. Amanda is proud to have fostered strong relationships with local midwives and pediatricians who encourage these types of treatments and adjustments.

Serving the Specific Needs of a Local Community

Dr. Amanda offers chiropractic care for youngsters

Dr. Amanda and Dr. Mischa have also developed strong relationships with the Veterans Administration (VA) community. Since they are both in network with the VA, many veterans now have access to chiropractic services. As a chiropractor, Dr. Amanda’s highest belief is that chiropractic care such as alignment and adjustments are helping your body function better, as well as improve the effects of physical and emotional stress.  “Chiropractic care is about so much more than just spinal misalignments,” she says. “When adjusting the spine, we are affecting the nervous system, which controls everything in the body. By removing irritation, we are allowing the body to heal the way it was designed to, without any interference, or the need for drugs or invasive procedures.” She wants her patients to feel well, naturally.

Dr. Amanda says she is “here for what [her] patients need.” If patients are seeking general wellness, she might see them on a monthly or quarterly basis. Or she might see small children with the most common ear infection or digestive problem. Whatever the issue, Dr. Amanda compares chiropractic care to untangling a kink in a water hose. Something is not flowing correctly in the spine and nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments help to clear this block. And with three chiropractors in the Superior Family Chiropractic practice in Chassell, MI, Dr. Amanda, Dr. Kemmy, and Dr. Mischa are all here to help.

Chiropractic Care for Chassell Offers Meaning

And being able to help people in her hometown has probably been the most meaningful aspect of her job. After starting her family in Minnesota with her husband, a Michigan Tech civil engineering alum, the couple decided it was time to come home. Leaving the Houghton area after graduation wasn’t easy since Dr. Amanda has deep roots in this community. Her family owns the Crane Berry Farm, and they have been integral to both personal and professional relationships in the area for decades.

Staying Local for College

But when asked what the benefits of staying local for college were, she didn’t hesitate to respond. “Local students have such an amazing opportunity for a high-quality education right in our own hometown! The size of the campus at Michigan Tech [is] also a benefit because [you don’t] feel like a number. I felt seen and heard as an individual student.” Dr. Amanda also recommends living on campus–versus commuting from home—if possible. It’s a great way to become immersed in the college atmosphere, even if you’re still close to home. Dr. Amanda fondly remembers her Tech experience and looks forward to mentoring students in the future–making them feel just as seen and heard as she did.

Advice for Aspiring Chiropractors (and Other Medical Professionals)

Looking back on her college career, Dr. Amanda did say she would do a few things differently. Most pre-health students don’t realize they will most likely own their own business or practice one day. Because of this, she strongly suggests taking electives in business classes such as marketing and accounting. She credits Michigan Tech’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for helping her set up her LLC and Tax ID #. The SBDC is available to Tech students, alumni, and the local community. 

And owning her own business, she says, has “afforded her the flexibility to work in a career she loves, while still being able to spend as much time as possible with family.” Returning home has facilitated a beautiful work-life balance for her entire family, and she credits her time at Michigan Tech for fostering many of the experiences and relationships necessary for her rewarding career in chiropractic care.


About the Michigan Tech pre-health program

The Michigan Tech pre-health program is an excellent entree to a rewarding career in health. We prepare you for graduate health programs like medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, and many other allied healthcare professional programs. You receive help navigating the application process and obtaining experiential learning opportunities, like clinical experience. You obtain the prerequisite courses you need in order to apply. All of this has led to a 70% acceptance rate into all graduate health programs for tech graduates (nearly twice the national average). Learn more about the student experience on the Pre-Health Blog.

From Fish Tanks To White Coats: Grace’s Vet School Journey

Grace Gonzalez and golden retriever
Grace Gonzalez enjoying some Houghton sun with the TKE fraternity dog, Cerberus.

Grace Gonzalez ‘23, BS—Medical Lab Science, started her vet school journey with a minor in pre-health professions. She recently enrolled at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. We had a chance to catch up with Grace to learn more about her pre-veterinary journey. Grace discussed her interest in veterinary medicine, the application process, undergraduate research, her advisers, and her advice to pre-professional health students.

Why did you choose to study MLS at Michigan Tech? 

When I initially came to Michigan Tech, I was unsure of what I wanted to do. As a matter of fact, upon graduating high school, I did not even plan to attend college. I felt behind my peers and I’m sure that others in this position may feel the same way. However, I think that coming into college undecided is a wonderful thing. It allows you to explore your passions without committing to something right away. Michigan Tech turned out to be a place that fostered my passions and allowed me to flourish. 

Upon beginning my first semester at Tech, I was enrolled in the Exploring Majors class (SA 1000). Our professor encouraged us to dig into our passions and what majors Tech offers. I don’t know how she knew but right off the bat, she recommended Medical Laboratory Science. I looked into this major a little more and was instantly intrigued. I always had an interest in medicine and I wanted a major that guaranteed me a job after graduation, had a meaningful and direct impact on society, and allowed me to continue my education if I desired. 

As I continued in MLS, I found myself enjoying the classes immensely but I felt that something was missing. I started the Aquarium Society at Michigan Tech and volunteered with the local wildlife rehab in my free time. During this time I was considering the medical school route but never felt 100% about it. I loved the medicine and patient care aspects but I wanted to incorporate my interest in aquatics and exotic animals somehow. Initially, I thought that maybe I could do some research during medical school that used animal models, but then I thought, if I love animals so much, why wouldn’t I just pursue veterinary medicine? 

Why did you choose to enroll in pre-health professions at Michigan Tech to start your vet school journey? 

As stated before, I never saw myself going to college, let alone becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. I had a rough childhood and always felt like my low socioeconomic status, lack of support, and my experiences with a mental health crisis would make it impossible for me to move up in our society. When I came to Michigan Tech, all of my preconceived notions about what my future would look like were changed.

My professors and advisors were so supportive and all of my peers were on the path to achieving great things. I saw mountains of opportunities around me and this motivated me to push myself harder. 

As soon as I declared Medical Laboratory Science as my major, I knew I wanted to do more. I loved my major so much that it encouraged me to pursue medicine further but I certainly needed some guidance on how to get there. I knew nothing about the application process, how to choose schools, the interviews, or how to gain meaningful experiences. This led me to the pre-health professions minor.

Why are you interested in veterinary medicine? 

Grace looking at a specimen under a microscope
Grace examines a fish to determine the cause of death

For anyone applying to veterinary school, medical school, or other graduate schools, you know that they want you to write about “Why this profession?” in about 3000 characters. That is so hard! There are innumerable things that have grown my passion for veterinary medicine over these past few years but there are a few themes that stand out.

I would say that the motivation that first encouraged me to pursue veterinary medicine was to improve the care given to aquatic and exotic animals. As I delved into the fishkeeping world, it became very apparent that we don’t know a lot about aquatic animal medicine and a lot of the information pet stores give out on non-dog and cat animals is driven by profits rather than the animals’ needs. Unlike many people who may see a fish as a decoration, I was able to spend enough time with them to know that each fish has a unique personality and feelings. To spread awareness of proper and ethical care of aquatic animals, I started the Aquarium Society at Michigan Tech, which has created a space for aquatic enthusiasts to converge and teach others. I also began to work with Drs. Casey Huckins and Jill Olin on aquatic research, which is something that I will be continuing in veterinary school. 

As I began to get more involved in veterinary medicine, I realized that my life experiences were exceptionally relevant to this field – mostly my experience with the suicide of someone close, and my heritage. The Veterinary profession has one of the highest suicide rates and recently an initiative called Not One More Vet has emerged to help combat it. As I move through my career in veterinary medicine, I make it a priority to be an advocate for a healthy environment, checking on my coworkers, and teaching non-veterinary people about the issues vet med faces.

About my heritage, half of my family is from Guatemala, which has a rate of over 75% of the population living below the poverty line. This understandably lends itself to many stray animals, minimal veterinary care, and a lack of concern for conservation. As I move forward in my veterinary career, I will be making an effort to use my skills to improve veterinary medicine in impoverished countries, such as Guatemala.

Last but not least, I just genuinely enjoy everything about veterinary medicine. Even though I am very passionate about aquatic and exotic animals, other fields of veterinary medicine are equally interesting to me. From surgery to research, laboratory work, talking to owners, and everything in between, I am always learning new things and I feel like I have the ability to positively impact animal and human lives. Figuring out what is wrong with an animal and how you can treat it is like a high-stakes puzzle that is very rewarding when you have successful results. 

Five Michigan Tech Aqaurium Society members sit in fron of fish tank
Aquarium Society team—Winter Carnival Statue trophy winners and Biology department tank caretakers

What kinds of things have you done to prepare yourself for a career in veterinary medicine? 

Veterinary medicine is a double-edged sword. As passionate as I am about it, I made sure to get enough experience to really understand what I was getting into. It is a stressful field, with high burnout rates, not very profitable, and loans are necessary. However, even knowing and experiencing these things did not sway my passion. 

A few of my favorite experiences while preparing for my application were doing a fish research project with Dr. Huckins, starting the Aquarium Society, working as a vet assistant at Copper Country Vet Clinic, volunteering at a local beef farm, shadowing our local pathologist for autopsies, taking care of lab animals, and being active within the biology department. These experiences were never just a box to check, but instead really valuable opportunities to expand my knowledge and try new things. Each one ensured me that I was on the right path for my future. 

For those preparing for a graduate school path, I would say the biggest things to focus on are shadowing or working hours, engaging in leadership roles, diversifying your experiences, and most importantly, finding what you are passionate about. 

Veterinary school acceptance rates are around 10-15% in the US. Congrats! You are one of the fortunate ones. What factors do you think made your application so successful? 

I feel exceptionally fortunate and relieved to have had such a successful cycle. I applied to 5 schools and was accepted to three, interviewed at two but pulled out when I was accepted to my top choice – Cornell. Maybe some statistics majors can chime in on how crazy that is! 

However, I can say with certainty that my success in the application process was not luck. There were many long days of school, working, studying, research projects, volunteering, and more. Dr. Huckins, my research advisor, might say that I did a little too much, but I genuinely enjoyed everything I was doing and it was all a great experience for vet school. 

I think the biggest factor in my application’s success was that each part of my application showed my genuine passion for veterinary medicine. From my personal statement to my experiences to my supplemental essays, I believe I made it show how motivated I was to pursue aquatic medicine and research.

What were some of the factors you considered when applying to vet school?

First, I was not limited geographically. As someone who grew up in the Midwest, I felt like I wanted to try something different. I considered schools down south and on both the east and west coasts. I was drawn to aquatic veterinary medicine.

I looked at the websites of programs I was interested in, exploring all the different things they had available there for veterinary students. As I wanted to do research, I was particularly interested in the professors. What types of research were they doing? What did they publish? I reached out to professors personally to learn more. They talked about the ins and outs of their programs. Many gave me student contacts. I spoke to their students to learn more about life on campus and in the lab. These conversations were invaluable to making my decision.

I looked at program schedules, too. I wanted to determine if I could complete a PhD during vet school. Typically, vet school is four years (three years of classes followed by a year of rotations in clinics and zoos). Afterward, I’d have to take exams to get licensed and look for a job. Residency is optional, too. A PhD adds two to four years to that timeline. So the timing of the degree was a huge consideration for me. 

Fortunately, I was accepted to some really great programs. The decision was tough. At the end of the day, I think the fish farming and infectious disease expertise at Cornell was a big factor. They also support AquaVets, an intensive summer program focused on aquatic veterinary medicine in Rhode Island. And I can do research in an area of interest – fish health in aquaculture systems – which I started and completed this past summer.

What role have your advisors played in your success? 

My advisors and mentors were absolutely vital to fostering my passion for medicine and ensuring I was able to achieve my goals. Even though I have harassed them with thank yous, I truly cannot thank them enough. They created an environment of support, encouragement, experiences, and honest feedback. 

Both Claire, the MLS advisor, and Nicole, my pre-health advisor, were fantastic in keeping me on track. They went above and beyond to ensure I was able to excel in my classes, graduate on time, and become involved in the biology department as a whole. They celebrated every achievement I had and felt more like supportive and helpful big sisters than impersonal professors or advisors. 

Although Dr. Casey Huckins was not my advisor for my major or minor, he was a fantastic advisor for my research, the advisor of the Aquarium Society, and a great mentor for my life. His passions and interests in the same things I am interested in allowed us to create a very successful research project on aquaculture feeding strategies and grow the Aquarium Society. Without his support, I would not have had such great opportunities to foster my interest in research and aquatics. His letters of recommendation were paramount in my acceptance to veterinary school. 

Last but not least, I cannot fail to mention the guidance, advice, and support that Brigitte Morin gave. She was a constant throughout my MLS career and is a wonderful professor and mentor. She also wrote one of my letters of recommendation, which I am certain helped me get into vet school.

It is bittersweet to leave all of the wonderful people I have met from Tech and Houghton. I could not have achieved my goals without them and for anyone on the graduate school route, I highly encourage you to make meaningful relationships with your professors. Not only may they provide you with a great letter of recommendation, but they are also invaluable in life experiences and support.

What advice do you have for future pre-vet students? 

Make genuine connections with your advisors and professors. They will support you in your journey and take an interest in you if you take an interest in them. They will give you great advice. And the relationship you have with them goes a long way to securing good letters of recommendation.

Stay motivated. Know what you are getting into. Talk to your advisors, professors, and those who are doing the things you want to do. Their experiences will show you what your life will be like after grad school.

When completing your application, focus on the essays. Take the time to draft a compelling response and be honest and authentic. If you do not have a great GPA, explain it. Show that you are a well-rounded person with good character traits. Get advice from family members and professors about the essays you are writing. What ideas do they have? What insight can they offer about you that you may not see yourself?

Grace Gonzalez
Grace in the field doing research

Any other advice?

Don’t let your past dictate your future. 

Regardless of your family’s situation, finances, previous bad grades, struggles with mental health, or any other hardships you have faced, we are lucky to have the intelligence and value to achieve anything we are passionate about. As a teenager that lost my dad to suicide, there were many times that I considered the same and never anticipated having any sort of future. It is not an easy road to overcome these obstacles but once you do, overcoming these experiences has immense value in shaping who you are and what you can offer to the world. 

My other piece of advice is to not take things too seriously. Enjoy your undergrad and have fun learning. Having a positive outlook on the things you are learning makes learning so much easier! It also helps when you have fantastic professors like Claire, Brigitte, and Sarah.

What will your next few years look like before you graduate from vet school? 

Only a few weeks after I graduated from Tech, I moved out to Ithaca, New York to start my veterinary career at Cornell. The vet school curriculum does not start until August but this summer I will be doing veterinary research on fish farming in Lake Victoria, Kenya. At the end of this program, I will be presenting my research at the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium in Puerto Rico.

Beyond this project, I hope that my research aspirations will allow me to participate in a program called Expanding Horizons in my future veterinary years, which would fund a trip to an underdeveloped country. There I would work with a veterinarian to research and combat the issues their country’s veterinary medicine faces. My ultimate goal is to do a PhD during vet school and do more research surrounding aquaculture. 

Besides that, this summer I will also be participating in the Dean’s Leaders Program, which is a program that encourages vet students to grow their leadership skills and build up students that come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

After summer concludes, I will officially start vet school. The first two years will be a lot of lectures and labs. Then, in the third year, I will choose a special interest, which will likely be aquatic medicine, and begin doing rotations related to that. I hope to be able to get an internship at a large aquarium during my rotations. 

All in all, I am very excited to start my veterinary career. I am entering enthusiastically and with an open mind to have new and exciting experiences. 

What do you think you will be doing professionally in ten years? 

To be quite honest, I don’t know what I might be doing in 10 years. I love continuously learning and trying new things so I imagine that after I graduate from vet school I will spend time working in many different fields. I’d ultimately like to end up working in aquaculture or aquatic conservation medicine but I’d also like to spend some time in small and large animal medicine, research, and potentially academia. One thing that I know for certain is that whatever I am doing, it will be something that is focused on improving the lives of animals and humans.

Reapplying to Medical School: How to Overcome Rejection and Improve your Application

Tessa’s First Application to Medical School

Hello, I am Tessa Mlinar. I graduated from Michigan Tech with a degree in Biological Sciences and a minor in Biochemistry in the spring of 2022. I have always been interested in the medical field. After seeking out various medical experiences, such as shadowing, working in a brain injury facility, and studying to become an EMT, I found that I was most drawn to the work of a doctor. So I did what every undergraduate student does and continued finding meaningful exposure to the field, studying hard to pass all pre-requisite classes and scrolling through way too many pre-med Reddit pages.

After months of preparing my application and not-so-patiently waiting to hear from schools, I faced the hard truth that I was not accepted to any medical schools for the 2022 cycle. So I did once again what any undergraduate student would do: panic. This new realization that I would not be attending medical school after graduating was honestly terrifying. I felt lost, and in this panic, I took the first job I was offered in vaccine development. This job only made me more sure that I would not be happy in any other career than medicine. I was determined to reapply and get into medical school the following cycle, which is easier said than done.

Tessa’s Tips for Reapplying

There are many things that I found helpful in pursuing this goal. I hope other students can find it helpful as well.

1. Utilize Your Resources:

There are many resources available to students to help them prepare for applying to a pre-health program. It is easy to scroll through a multitude of medical school preparation websites, Youtube channels, and discussion boards to find information on a wide variety of topics. Michigan Tech offers many invaluable resources, such as knowledgeable advisors and supportive classmates. I spoke with the Pre-Health Director, Nicole Roeper, about all areas of my application, including reviewing many drafts of my personal statement and completing practice interview questions. In addition, I found much support through the peer-led MCAT study group in knowing that I was not alone in this difficult time. Pre-health is often a competitive environment, and it is easy to think you are the only one struggling. I found it very helpful to have a group of pre-health friends to vent to about the hard steps, and I found many were getting stuck in the same place as I was.

Beyond online, MTU, and personal resources, I highly recommend looking for application advice from pre-health programs you are denied from. Unfortunately, not all programs offer this, but the ones that do can precisely pinpoint where you should improve for future cycles. One school I spoke with was kind enough to walk through each section and give me input on how I could better label each experience I had, what order they review the application in, and even provided tips on when it is best to submit each piece. Getting this feedback directly from the faculty that makes acceptance decisions is incredibly valuable and leads me to my next piece of advice.

2. Understand Where You Are Lacking:

After spending months working on your application and submitting what you believe is the best representation of yourself, it is understandably hard to look at it critically after you hit submit. By speaking with advisors, peers, and the universities that offer application feedback, you may see new areas that you can work to improve on your application. For schools without personal feedback, I found it helpful to look at the mission statements and visions of the schools I was interested in. This gave me a good place to start in seeing what kind of experiences these programs look for and ensuring that I align with their mission. Personally, I found that my GPA and MCAT score was lower than the average applicant’s and that my hands-on patient experience was limited. From here, I set a realistic goal GPA to achieve by graduation, took time off of work to study and retake the MCAT, and added on new patient-facing experiences such as COVID swabbing and volunteer EMT work. You do not have to wait until you are re-applying for this step. I would recommend looking for the areas in which your application is lacking long before you begin applying so that you have time to ensure you are a well-rounded applicant the first time.

3. Remember Your Reason Why:

I cannot emphasize this enough, but remember why you are doing this! Applying to any health program takes time, money, and energy. Remembering why I am doing this has helped me overcome a lot of the struggle that comes with rejection and hardships throughout the process.

Everyone’s journey to the medical field is different, and often only acceptances are spoken about rather than the many rejections that come with it. In addition to sharing my own struggles here, I am happy to share that I have been accepted to medical school and will begin my journey to become a doctor in the fall.

The most important thing I can share from my experience is that failure is not final. When I spoke with the many doctors I work with about getting into school in my second year of applying, many shared their stories of taking two or three, or even more, years to get into schools themselves. Every person has a different path to medicine, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your path ends up differently than you had planned.

Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship Awarded to Three for 2022-2023

The Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship is a multi-year scholarship established to provide material support for students who are interested in pursuing medical school. This scholarship wishes to honor Lt. Col. Robert N. Nottoli USAF (Ret.) and Samuel C. Hon M.D. F.A.C.S, both of whom believed that quality education was the gateway to success in service to others. The couple from California who established the scholarship (although not Tech graduates) have chosen to invest in the University’s growing health sciences area.

Preference is being given to Copper Country students in the hope that recipients who pursue becoming physicians will return to the Copper Country to practice and provide sustainable care to citizens of the region. This year’s recipients are all minoring in Pre-Health, with a pre-med focus. The three 2022- 2023 Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship recipients share what the award means to them and their future medical careers.

Sarah Rowe
Sarah Rowe majors in Biomedical Engineering with a Pre-Health minor

Traveling Long Distances for Orthopedic Surgeries Inspires Biomedical Engineering Major Sarah to Help Rural Communities

How did you get interested in medicine?

My interest in medicine grew for a few different reasons! My Grandpa was an ER doctor and growing up my parents talked a lot about him, so my interest in becoming a doctor started when I was very young. Growing up I was also an athlete and suffered many different injuries so I spent a LOT of time at doctor’s appointments. This exposure to the medical field continued to pique my interest and I set my sights on becoming a doctor who works with athletes!

What made you interested in rural medicine specifically?

I grew up as an athlete in Houghton and have experienced firsthand the need to travel to receive orthopedic surgeries. My goal is to eventually help bridge that gap for athletes and everyone else in rural communities!

How has this scholarship helped you achieve your goals?

Thanks to the Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship, I’ve been able to spend more time focusing on my academics and less time on working which has been hugely beneficial, especially during a critical time in my academic career as I’m beginning to look into Medical School applications. 

The Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship Will Help Medical Lab Science Major Ella Achieve Her Dream of Working Directly With People and Improving Outcomes

How did you get interested in medicine?

Ella Kunitzer
Ella Kunitzer majors in Medical Lab Science with a Pre-Health minor

To be honest, I have always had an interest in medicine, I just wasn’t sure how I wanted to direct it.  Coming into college, I was thinking I would go into genetic research.  The further I got into my degree, the more I realized that I wanted to work directly with people.  I started babysitting and learned I loved children.  Then I received my Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) license and a new job and realized I had found exactly where I wanted to be: with people. I am currently in my third year, and about a year out from applying to medical school.  I am working as a CNA and shadowing a midwife, both of which solidified my belief that medicine is the right field for me.

What made you interested in rural medicine specifically?

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in cities.  I have lived in the suburbs for most of my life, but I also spent a couple of years living in big cities in another country.  I was always amazed by the easy access we had to medicine wherever we were. 

Living in another country, I also had the opportunity to see how the people lived outside of the city.  I have one distinct memory of visiting an orphanage in rural China when I was about seven years old and meeting children my age.  These children had been given up to an orphanage because they were sick and the parents had no access to, or money for, healthcare.  The older I’ve gotten, the more I have realized that this is a fixable problem.  I want to work in an area where I can make a difference, and where I can fill the gaps in healthcare.

How has this scholarship helped you achieve your goals?

Because of this grant, I have been able to work a little less and spend a little more time out in the community. I have had the opportunity to shadow the local CNM (certified nurse midwife), and have observed what medicine looks like in a rural area. There are certainly challenges with access to quality care locally, and these are challenges that I would like to help solve.

The experiences that I have been able to gain have further strengthened my resolve to get into rural medicine. Because of this grant, I have gained experiences that I wouldn’t have had the time for. Because of these experiences, I am more determined than ever to help communities such as this one. I want to be able to help the next mother who experiences complications, and ensure she can have the care she deserves without having to travel.

Mechanical Engineering Major Kayley Wants To Find New Solutions To Help Rural Communities

Kaley Elmblad
Kayley Elmblad majors in Mechanical Engineering with a Pre-Health minor

How did you get interested in medicine?

Medicine has impacted me as I directly want to help people in need. Using my background in mechanical engineering I will be able to come up with new solutions and will bring a different viewpoint to medicine. I will be graduating with my undergrad degree in the spring of 2024 and then attending medical school in the fall of 2024.

What made you interested in rural medicine specifically?

Growing up in Marquette MI, I understand the effects of healthcare on a rural area. I want to be a part of the solution and help those who are in underserved communities.

How has this scholarship helped you achieve your goals?

This scholarship is truly an honor and has allowed me to continue my education and effort to become a physician in a rural area.

Want to Lean More?

You can learn about Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship recipients from 2021: Karmyn, who shares her first-semester experience at med school and offers advice for others; and Lindsay who highlights how her research, study abroad, and community service experiences helped shape her career path.

Supporting students through scholarships and fellowships, like the Hon and Nottoli Family Scholarship, is Michigan Tech’s top strategic priority. Learn more about how the Michigan Tech Fund helps students.

Variety of Experiences Leads to Cardiovascular Perfusion School

My name is Colleen Toorongian. I am currently a graduate student at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), in the Biological Sciences department. I will be graduating this summer from PNW, and will then be moving to New York to start the Cardiovascular Science and Perfusion Medicine program at Hofstra University.

Michigan Tech alum Colleen Toorongian is heading off to the Cardiovascular Perfusion program at Hofstra University.

Exploration at Michigan Tech

I graduated from Michigan Tech in 2020 with a BS in Exercise Science and a minor in Bioethics. Going into college I didn’t have a specific career in mind. I just knew I wanted something in the healthcare field. I began exploring my options by getting involved in research in the Clinical and Applied Human Physiology Lab, volunteering in hospice, working as a Student Athletic Trainer, shadowing various healthcare providers, and assisting with outreach projects. I was also able to gain invaluable hands-on experience in classes and labs. Through these diverse opportunities, I was able to explore different careers in healthcare and network with people of all different backgrounds.

Shadowing Helps Colleen Decide on a Career Path

During the summer before my fourth year at MTU, I was able to accrue ~150 hours of shadowing a plastic surgeon. Although I ultimately decided against pursuing surgery, I found I really enjoyed the operating room (OR) environment. I began researching career paths that involved the OR, which is how I stumbled upon Cardiovascular Perfusion. A perfusionist is a member of a cardiac team, responsible for placing the patient on cardiopulmonary bypass. During surgery, a perfusionist is responsible for an array of duties that are typically managed by the heart and lungs such as blood pressure regulation, organ perfusion, and acid-base balance to name a few. This career seemed like a great fit for me, as it combined my research focus (cardiovascular physiology and autonomic regulation) and my love of the OR. I then connected with several perfusionists to gain a further understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

Graduate School Adds Beneficial Experiences

Graduating from Michigan Tech in 2020 was difficult no doubt, however, it reinforced my ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment. In March 2020, I was offered the opportunity to attend Purdue University Northwest to pursue my Master’s degree with Dr. John Durocher, who I worked with as an undergraduate student at MTU. With little known about the future due to COVID-19, I decided this would be a great opportunity to expand my skill set, instead of staying stagnant and “waiting it out”.

At PNW I’ve assisted in setting up a new laboratory, submitting IRB proposals, applying for grants, training fellow students, and conducting research. Although this may not have been in my original plan, I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity, as I’ve been able to further my education and clinical skills, while working as a member of a team. I have also gained a deeper understanding of evidence-based medicine, which I believe is vital for all future healthcare professionals.

As of right now, there are 18 schools in the country offering programs in Perfusion, with class sizes of 4-14 students. Many programs require coursework in physiology, biology, chemistry, math, and pharmacology. Students come from a variety of backgrounds, although most have several years of experience working in the healthcare field as an EMT, Respiratory Therapist, or in Cardiac Rehab. I was hesitant to apply due to my limited direct patient care experiences, however with the encouragement of family, friends, and advisors, I applied and was accepted. I truly believe that without my eclectic experiences in research, shadowing, and volunteering throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I would not have been accepted.

Advice for Pre-Health Students

My biggest piece of advice would be to seek out as many opportunities as you can and leave as many doors open as possible. While some students know exactly what they want going into college, it’s totally normal to be unsure of your future and goals. Try to maintain an open mind at all times and gain new experiences, as you never what opportunity may present itself to you next, or how far that could take you!

Learn more about the Pre-Cardiovascular Perfusion program at Michigan Tech.


Pre-PT Advice from Hunter Kero!

Hi! My name is Hunter Kero. I am currently a senior here at Michigan Tech, majoring in Exercise Science while double minoring in Pre-Health Professions and Psychology. I will be attending Central Michigan University’s Doctorate in Physical Therapy program in May. I applied to this program because of the co-op they have with Michigan Tech, and the opportunity to continue my education in the Copper Country. 

 Studying exercise science at Michigan Tech was very valuable for getting into PT school.  In high school, I was always interested in the human body and became interested in athletic training and physical therapy. It wasn’t until I underwent shoulder surgery, which required many months of physical therapy that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in PT. So, when I transferred to Michigan Tech and saw the curriculum for Exercise Science It was a very easy decision for me to go down this route. 

Michigan Tech provided me with every opportunity to strengthen my application. The shadowing program that Tech has is perfect for students who need on-sight shadowing hours. Along with shadowing, I volunteered as an assistant coach for a local high school hockey team as well as a few smaller organizations and events. I did not take part in research, but Michigan Tech has great opportunities to do so, and I would highly recommend it.  Without the pre-health profession courses, I would have been very overwhelmed in the application process. These courses cover every aspect of the application and what is required for each topic of the application. I strongly recommend taking those classes and saving your work from them. 

Some advice I would give Tech students going for physical therapy would be:

  1. Talk to your Pre-Health Advisor (Nicole) and make sure you have a plan and know what prereqs you need.
  2.  Do not overwhelm yourself as a Freshman or sophomore, enjoy the college experience. There is no correct path to these programs. Be unique.  
  3. Take advantage of what Tech has to offer, there are a lot of opportunities you may not know of.  It is okay to ask questions.

Best of luck to all the students and your journey into whatever you may choose! If you have any questions don’t be afraid to reach out, Nicole has my email. 

Pre-health students win top awards at Michigan Tech

We know students who choose pre-health are top-notch. They go above and beyond in everything they do. So it comes as no surprise to see them recognized for their scholarship and community service. Congratulations to our outstanding pre-health student award-winners.
Read more about pre-medical student Christian Johnson (double major in human biology and English) and pre-physician assistant student Bella Menzel-Smith (human biology major).

Michigan Tech EMS: Chloe Looman’s Experience as Captain.

Chloe Looman, EMT Captain, Biological Sciences Major

Hello, my name is Chloe Looman and I am this year’s Captain of Michigan Tech EMS. Our agency certifies students and local community members to the EMT level, and in exchange, we volunteer as responders to the Michigan Tech campus and surrounding community. Our response time is mere minutes in comparison to the Mercy ambulance company, which can sometimes take 30-40 minutes to respond as they serve the whole Keweenaw Peninsula. 

As Captain, I oversee the three to four responding squads that rotate being on call every 72-96 hours. My journey with the agency began when I was lucky enough to be selected as one of a handful of incoming first-years to the EMT class. The course each year trains about 16-20 students to be EMTs (the lowest level certification that can work in an ambulance) in exchange for volunteering as a responder for a full academic year afterward. Coming to MTU I had my sights set on medical school. I love creative problem solving and people, despite being an introvert, but had little evidence that medicine would be where I would truly thrive. I joined the program not only as a way to gain experience prior to med school but also as a way to explore the clinical side of things.

Through my involvement with the agency, I got just that, and so much more. The EMT course for me was like 3D school. Our tests were practicals where we had to physically demonstrate our skills with the equipment and learn how to ask all the right questions as well as think on our feet. The personal growth I got during the course was immense, and it confirmed that medicine was absolutely the right path for me. After earning my EMT license I got a job as a medical responder at Michigan’s Adventure where I got to treat patients all summer long. This set me up to be very prepared for the next academic year when I was responding with MTU EMS. Living in the dorms gave me the extra advantage of often being the first responder on the scene many times. I got to initiate and direct patient care as well as establish how to take a good care report.

In my second year responding, I got to take the role of Squad Leader. With this position, I got to take a more directive role with my squadmates. In the second semester of that year, I got to move to Lieutenant of my own squad, where I was in charge of driving the EMS Tahoe to scenes and overseeing the patient care. I loved that in this role I got to use my leadership skills to delegate tasks and allow my newer responders to also get the same formative experiences I had gotten as a general responder.

For my final year at MTU as Captain of the agency, it has been incredible to get to direct the inner workings of the agency having served every role at some point myself. I love that with my experience as an introverted leader, I get to use my role to encourage the participation and ideas of every member as well as work closely with the class of students that may someday take my place. Michigan Tech EMS has allowed me to develop strong leadership skills as well as discover that medicine is where I feel most at home. I am currently on three medical school waitlists and eager for a lifetime of treating patients.

Healthcare job growth projected at 16%; Michigan Tech Pre-Health professions helping to meet demand

It’s no secret the older we get the more we need healthcare. And the U.S. is getting older. Currently, 16.5% of the U.S. population of 328 million people, or 54 million, are over the age of 65, according to the latest census. By 2030, that number will rise to 74 million, a 37% increase. And the number of people over the age of 85, who generally need the most care, is growing even faster.

So it comes as no surprise that healthcare is expected to create jobs at a faster clip than the rest of the economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 16% growth across all healthcare professions. And these professions pay very well, too. The table below lists just some examples.

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020
Occupation Projected
Job Growth
Median
Pay
Audiologists 16% $81,030
Chiropractors 11% $70,720
Dentists 8% $164,010
Optometrists 9% $118,050
Occupational Therapists 17% $86,280
Physical Therapists 21% $91,010
Physicians Assistants 31% $115,390
Podiatrists 2% $134,300
Speech Pathologists 29% $80,480
Veterinarians 17% $99,250

Michigan Tech’s Pre-Health professions minor has been preparing tomorrow’s healthcare leaders and helping to fill the growing demand for healthcare professionals. Pre-Health professions features helpful faculty and staff ensuring students: meet academic requirements for professional programs, receive valuable clinical experience and successfully navigate the application process. All of which results in a 70% acceptance rate into all health professional programs. For Tech students applying to medical school, they have a 65% acceptance rate (approximately twenty-five percentage points above the national average).

Students can pair this minor with any degree/major they choose at Tech. Popular pairings are made with Human Biology, Medical Lab Science, Biomedical Engineering, Exercise Science, Chemistry, and Psychology. While students can choose any major, these are the most common! 

But don’t let us tell you. Hear from our students first-hand how they prepared for the health professional program of their choice.

Listen to Jill Poliskey describe how a study abroad program in Ireland helped her decide to change her focus and her major and decide to go to medical school to become a doctor.

Listen to Abigail Botz describe how getting involved in research on campus and working as a peer health advocate has helped to strengthen her application.

Learn about Alyssa Meinburg’s progression from MTU’s prehealth program to prosthetics and orthotics school.

Emma DeBaeke shares her journey from Tech into into Physcial Therapy school.

And Karmyn Polakowski talk about her entrance into med school thanks to Michigan Tech’s Early Assurance Program (EAP) with Michigan State University.
Learn more about Pre-Health at Michigan Tech or contact Nicole Seigneurie, Director, Pre-Health Profession directly at 906.487.2850 or nmseigne@mtu.edu.

Don’t Lose Your Tenacity: Allysa Meinburg’s P&O Pathway

Allysa participating in a study wearing Free-EMG muscle sensors

Hi! My name is Allysa Meinburg. I am currently a first-year grad student in the Masters of Prosthetics and Orthotics at the University of Pittsburgh. Prosthetics and Orthotics is a specialty field in rehabilitation medicine that focuses on creating and delivering devices for those with limb deficiencies. This program applies biomedical engineering concepts but adds pathology and physical human care in a treatment plan. This specialty can be in both immediate post-op and long-term care.

I enrolled at Michigan Tech as a Biomedical Engineering major, and later I switched majors to Biology and graduated with a Human Biology major and minors in Pre-Health Professions and Enterprise. Having a strong engineering and biology background has really set me up to have a well-rounded understanding of my field.

I knew I wanted to be a prosthetics and orthotics practitioner since I learned about the field in high school and have been pursuing avenues to get there ever since. I participated in competitive robotics (FIRST Robotics Competition) and later mentored teams through my time at Mott Community College and at Tech. I enjoyed engineering and technical device design but realized I wanted to focus more on healthcare and human practice. I have worked in many healthcare positions as an ER Physicians Scribe, a Surgery Tech, and an Orthotics Technician. My education at Tech enriched my understanding of human biology, research, and design, but my work taught me patient management and healthcare systems technology.

While at Tech, I had participated in Dr. Ongs’ BME research lab but found my true passion on the AAA Prosthetic Enterprise Team. Over 4 years our team addressed the challenge of affordable accessible prosthetic devices. I used my 8 semesters of Enterprise research and design to publish 2 research posters and presented them at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists national conference. The team I was a part of was made up of mostly engineers, but I found myself focusing on the overall functionality of the product and clinical interactions. With my history of patient care in mind, we designed an ankle prosthesis so it could be easily serviced by the individual with components that are replaceable when they wear out. Having a complete understanding and motivation in product design, I feel like we really created a breakthrough product.

 Allysa with her first upper extremity cast

I loved all that Michigan Tech has to offer- both academic and extracurricular! I conducted research in Dr. Ong’s BME research lab and published a paper with his team. On the Enterprise AAA Prosthetic team, we presented research posters at the American Association of Orthotists and Prosthetists conference twice. In my senior year, I was elected the President of the Enterprise Department and received the Outstanding Leadership Expo award. I was also a part of the medical honor society Alpha Epsilon Delta and served as a member and the President. For extracurriculars, I played Women’s Club Rugby, was a member of CRU and loved(!) to play broomball. I would highly recommend joining AED, the national health honor society. This honor society offers great mentoring connections, volunteering, and philanthropy opportunities. I would also recommend conducting research in any department. I learned so much about how to design a research project, gather data, and implement changes. These skills are paramount in Evidence-Based Practice.

My biggest piece of advice for any Tech student is don’t lose your #tenacity! At the time, Tech didn’t have any prosthetics programs, so I created my own! Working with the Enterprise department we, myself, and the other team members expanded the AAA team and now it has an ankle and foot, prosthetic research team. Lots of the P&O background research and medical ISO preparation processes I am now learning in grad school- huge advantage! We sought funding by presenting to other foundations and departments. Ultimately, this spearheaded our traveling and publishing research at the AAOP conference. If you want to study something that doesn’t exist, it just doesn’t exist YET! Go and find what you love and stay #tenacious.