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More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

​Jennifer Vanderpool

Graduation year: 2015

vanderpool

Majors: Biology, French, neuroscience

Pre-professional program: Pre-physician assistant

Post-grad plans:I plan to shadow an orthopedic/neurology physician assistant and conduct neuroscience research with Dr. Stough over the summer as well as work as a CNA on the oncology and neurology floor at Trinity West in Rock Island to get more clinical hours and experience before applying to physician assistant graduate school.

Why did you choose Augustana?
I knew about Augustana long before I started searching for colleges because my parents, brother, aunt and uncle all attended Augustana. I knew Augustana could offer me the attention I wanted in the classroom, the close relationships with professors, and opportunities to help me grow as an individual. For example, I was able to start doing genetic research with one of my professors my sophomore year, and I have been doing so ever since. I have been able to form relationships with my teachers, so they are more of my mentors than someone I only see in the classroom. I wanted a school that cared as much about my future as I did, and Augustana has exceeded my expectations.

Are you where you thought you'd be four years ago?
Absolutely not. Freshman year I either wanted to be an interior designer or a genetic counselor. It's very difficult to come in freshman year knowing what you want exactly considering you're about to start a whole new chapter of your life, and you don't know what is going to interest you. Augustana really helped me determine what I wanted to do and, most importantly, why I wanted to do it. We do a lot of reflecting throughout the four years, and it has helped me understand why I chose what I wanted to do and how it fits into my future plans.

Who helped you get to where you are now?
I think my family, my professors and my advisor really helped by asking me critical questions about how I planned to be proactive in a very competitive medical profession as well as showing me all my options. I especially appreciate my advisors in the French department who worked so hard to make sure I was able to receive the French major instead of the minor. It's truly inspiring to see how much teachers truly care about you and want to you succeed.

A peak experience?
I have many peak experiences, but one that sticks out in my mind is being able to attend the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association Conference in Nashville my junior year. I work at PepsiCo as lead staff as well as on the intramural staff, and each year a national conference is held for all the colleges and universities across the country. Being able to attend this conference made me realize how my position in the recreational center really does have an impact and can also offer me many new opportunities and connections. Although I am not going to graduate school for anything recreational, the position at PepsiCo, along with being able to attend the conference, helped me develop a skill set that will help me be successful.

What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you?
These past four years have truly challenged me. I joined as many groups as I could, I took leadership roles in all of them, and doing so helped me realize just how much potential I had. I doubted myself a lot when taking leadership positions in the beginning, and I didn't think I was up to the challenge, but it was my family and advisors who pushed me and made me realize I was just as qualified as the next person. I also learned how I studied best and how to balance a sport, clubs, being in a sorority, relationships and school.

How did you use your Augie Choice?
I was fortunate enough to attend a six-week program in Dijon, France, to study French. This opportunity gave me 6 French credits and six weeks of unforgettable memories with people from all over the world.

What will you miss the most?
The whole atmosphere of Augustana College. Knowing you have all these people surrounding you who just want to help you be the best person you can be, whether it be a teacher meeting with you outside of class or an advisor sitting down with you to research internships. It is going to be difficult leaving a place that has given me my friends, my professional connections, my mentors and numerous opportunities.

Advice for the Class of 2019?
Don't ever assume you can't do something, whether that means major/ minor in something, be a leader or run for a position in a group. College is the place where you have to test your limits. If you don't challenge yourself, you're never going to know if you truly wanted it in the first place. There are going to be so many ups and downs throughout the four years, but that is why there are teachers, advisors, counselors, deans and so many other faculty to help in any way possible.

“Jennifer exudes enthusiasm for learning! She is a well-rounded, young scholar who will have a successful and fulfilling career in science. Working with Jennifer in classes and in the research lab truly has been a pleasure.”

— Dr. Kimberly Murphy, assistant professor, biology