Skip to main content
Leslie Bandera
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Leslie Bandera

Graduation year: 2024

High school: Faith Christian School

Hometown: Oregon, Ill.

Majors: Biochemistry; chemistry

Minor: Religion

Activities: Sports medic, Campus Ministries Leadership Team, Omicron Delta Kappa leadership society

Internships: Texas Medical Center Summer Research Internship Program Summer 2023; UnityPoint Hospital Intern

Post-grad plans: Medical school at Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Why Augustana?

I chose Augustana because of the biochemistry department and the beautiful, small campus. While the school has evolved over the years, I am very happy with my decision to attend Augustana because it provided the academic basis I needed to achieve my future goals.

Are you where you thought you'd be when you first came to campus?

While I am ending my time at Augie with the degree and post-grad plans that I always dreamed of, my four years have been an interesting journey. I always had broad plans of majoring in biochemistry and potentially pursuing medical school. 

Over the years, I have added a second major in chemistry and a minor in religion because my passion for science intersected with my desire to learn more about the overarching human experience.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

I have been blessed by many people in my life these past four years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance of Dr. Pam Trotter and Dr. Patrick Crawford. They showed me how to have fun with biochemistry and see the beauty of science that appears in every aspect of life. 

I am also grateful to Pastor Melinda Pupillo and the Campus Ministries Leadership Team that provided a place where I could be myself and share my faith in a welcoming and loving environment. 

Ultimately, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the overwhelming support of my family. I am blessed to have loving parents who pushed me to be my best and supported my academic decisions. 

My family’s guidance made a huge difference in my college experience, especially that of my older sister. She helped me survive my freshman year while we were in the midst of the pandemic shutdown. Without her pushing me outside of my comfort zone and being my biggest cheerleader, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Peak experience?

My favorite experience was the Texas Medical Center Summer Research Internship Program (TMCSRIP) in the summer of 2023. I took part in a 10-week program in Houston, Texas, at Baylor College of Medicine. I conducted research into human colorectal carcinoma from a molecular and biochemical standpoint using P53 and Caspase-2 compensation and coordination. 

Those weeks in Texas taught me a new love of scientific research and provided wonderful memories that I will cherish forever.

What surprised you?

The biggest surprise was how quickly the last four years went by. It feels like just yesterday that I was a freshman watching my older sister graduate from Augie. Now it is my turn to wear the cap and gown. It is truly amazing how quickly four years can pass by especially when you look back on your accomplishments and class memories.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to fund my housing in Houston, Texas, during the TMCSRIP program. It was very helpful to offset the costs of the summer research experience.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss the biochemistry department and Campus Ministries Team as well as the familiarity Augustana provides. While I will miss the ease of Augie, I am ready to begin a new chapter of my life at KCU College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Advice for the Class of 2028?

Do not follow the crowd. Do not be afraid to be different. Your time at Augie is your own to decide how and what you do with these four years. When you focus on your goals, you will not only enjoy college but achieve whatever you put your heart and mind to.

"Leslie is a model of what a wide liberal arts education can do in the world! Beyond excelling in pre-med, Leslie minored in religion, where she thought carefully about issues that matter to diverse populations. In her final religion class 'Suffering, Death, and Hope,' she is bringing these disciplines together to consider healing and well-being in mind, body and spirit. This interdisciplinarity informed the next steps in her unfolding vocation as well. She will be going to med school after graduating from Augie, where she will pursue osteopathic medicine, which can treat human persons more holistically than other forms of medicine. It is clear that Leslie has the mental toughness and caring spirit to become a healer of many!"

– Dr. Jason Mahn, professor, religion