UMR Pathways

Pathways Featured Students

Read more about these featured students' Pathway experiences below

Are you curious to learn more about how choosing a specific Pathway can help you reach your career goal? Read more about UMR alumni and how their chosen Pathway helped pave the way for their future.

 

The Business And Leadership Of Health Care

 

Nicole FolkenNicole Folken, '13 
The Business And Leadership Of Health Care
Major: Health Science Minor in Business  
Hometown: Rochester, MN 

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose to come to the University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) because I liked their approach on student-focused learning. The professors tailor their learning styles to what best suits the student’s needs. Additionally, each class concentrates on group work and collaboration. An example of this is that we sit at tables verses desks which has helped me immensely in the working world as most of what I currently do involves working in teams or with planning committees.  

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone involved two components. The first was a summer internship at Olmsted Public Health where I was involved in different advocacy initiatives. One in particular had to do with gardening in the schools that taught students how to plant, grow and pick produce and then use the produce in their school lunches. This was a neat concept and one we now see many restaurants trying to incorporate with farm to table entrees.

The second part of my Capstone was with Olmsted Medical Center (OMC) where I was involved with business administration. My project was to go to the various OMC sites in and around Rochester to see how many patients per day call with questions/medication refills that could possibly be answered using an automated phone system. 

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? Both components of my Capstone were different as one focused on public health and the other on the non-patient side of a health care institution. My Capstone experiences gave me the confidence in how to interact with professional individuals regardless of title or position. It also taught me how to be efficient and detail-oriented without cutting corners. This has helped me when creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) for my position and in my day to day tasks. I really enjoyed the business administration side of health care when working on my Capstone at OMC. This inspired me to obtain my Masters in Healthcare Administration and work on the business side at Mayo Clinic. Had I not been given the opportunity at OMC, I would not have realized how much I enjoyed that area of the institution.

What are you currently doing?  After graduating from UMR, I went on to obtain my Masters in Healthcare Administration from St. Mary’s University. I am now an Education Specialist for Mayo Clinic Laboratories, which is within the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  

Trenton KanitzTrenton Kanitz, ‘19
The Business And Leadership Of Health Care
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Prior Lake, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose to come to UMR because of the small class sizes and excellent faculty-to-student ratio. The academic rigor was also appealing since I feel it has better prepared me for graduate school. Beyond that, the proximity to Mayo Clinic is a plus.

What did your Capstone experience at UMR involve? My Capstone experience encompassed leadership and how that would serve me as a future health care administrator. For example, I worked as a Health Unit coordinator at Mayo Clinic, led the UMR intramural volleyball program and earned a management minor through the University of Minnesota Crookston.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? As a future health care administrator, I am taking a leadership role within the health care field. Through my experience I got a good taste of how a health system works, what it's like to organize and run a program and relevant business and ethics principles through my minor classes. The main lesson I learned from these experiences is that someone like me who will not have direct patient contact can still make a positive difference in the patient experience.

What are your plans after graduation? After graduation, I am headed to the University of Miami in Florida to pursue a Master's of Health Administration (M.H.A.) degree. I then hope to enter the administrative side of health care after that in an upper management role of some kind.  

Bre VeerkampBre Veerkamp ‘13
The Business And Leadership Of Health Care
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Minor: Business Administrative Management
Hometown: St. Charles

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose to come to UMR because the school was local and offered a new program that provided students exposure to Mayo Clinic. UMR offered a new and innovative learning strategy that was hands on with smaller class sizes, allowing each student to be known by name to their professors. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I enjoyed helping and working with others, so the medical field seemed like a great choice for me.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone Experience at UMR was an Executive Administrative Assistant position at Midwest Ear Nose and Throat Clinic in Woodbury, MN. During that experience I worked within the business office completing finance, accounting and human resource related assignments and projects.

How did your Capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? The Capstone experience prepared me for the working world. Company culture, expectations, meeting deadlines, appropriate dress, adapting to change and proper office behavior in the workplace were all part of this learning experience, in addition to the human resource and finance projects I completed. This Capstone experience was directly correlated to and an important transition piece for me as a student going from college into the working world. The skills I started building then have grown and developed and are still used daily in my Contracting role in the Supply Chain Management Department at Mayo Clinic.

What are you currently doing? I have since completed a Master in Business Administration through Northcentral University and am employed at Mayo Clinic as a Contract Coordinator in the Supply Chain Management Department.

Nicole VangNicole Vang ‘14
The Business And Leadership Of Health Care
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Oakdale, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose to study at UMR because like most of the previous and current students, I liked the small class size and that I would have the opportunity to get to know my professors. I often like to think ahead into the future and at that time I was looking to go into medical school, so I wanted my letters of recommendation to be personal. My Kindergarten-12th grade education was at a small private school so I knew I needed a smaller school to be successful.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone involved three components and they all revolved around community health and literacy. The first component was taking rigorous coursework in the areas of Biology, Public Health and Health Care Communication and Literacy. The second component was community involvement. A good amount of my free time as a college student was volunteering in the Rochester community such as the Ronald McDonald House, the Gift of Life Transplant House, The Rochester Student Association Club and local food banks. The final component involved spending 15 weeks in Washington, DC as a White House Intern. This was my favorite part of my capstone experience. I worked with some of the nation’s most important people on issues that were and still are affecting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. These issues include health care gaps, data disaggregation, immigration reform and youth engagement.

How did your Capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? At first I thought my Capstone experience threw me off of the course I was supposed to be on, which was to become a medical doctor. I chose UMR because I wanted to be a doctor, but I’ve come to realize that my Capstone experience was a blessing in disguise. It prepared me to think independently and it allowed me to understand health care issues from different perspectives then what I had been previously exposed to. My Capstone experience prepared me to understand the importance of building strong and meaningful relationships. It taught me to challenge myself, by not just speaking about change, but making change happen. Lastly, my Capstone taught me to not be afraid of challenges or obstacles that come my way because if I will embrace those challenges and overcome them.

What are you currently doing? I am currently working as a Clinical Safety Advisor for Medtronic where I see first-hand the development of new health care technologies that are created to help assist health care providers with contributing to human welfare by alleviating pain, restoring health and extending life.

Resilience, Well-being And Mental Health

Abby CinkAbby Cink, ‘17
Resilience, Well-being And Mental Health
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Mason City, IA

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose UMR because it offered classes geared towards health care and what I wanted to do. It also offered the one-on-one support (through JustASK) and low student-to-teacher ratio that I wanted. I wanted to feel like I was part of a community rather than a student at a school in the community.  

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone experience focused on mental health and involved collaboration between the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the University of Minnesota Rochester to create a peer support mentor program; I was also co-president of an on-campus group To Write Love on Her Arms, and I worked at Mayo Clinic in the Center for Sleep Medicine. These experiences taught me important lessons about leadership, adaptability and listening. I worked my senior year to expand how I thought about mental health and to work to educate others about mental health.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My Capstone experience taught me important lessons that I still use today in my work. I am able to use more active listening skills and work with people where they are at in life and work more effectively as a team and to be adaptable to what my team needs. My Capstone experience was vital in teaching me important skills that I will use for the rest of my career. 

What are you currently doing? I am currently working at a local agency as a psychiatric technician in an Intensive Outpatient Setting. I am working with children and adolescents with mental illness and/or chemical dependency. I am also attending St. Mary's University of Minnesota to obtain a Master of Arts degree in Counseling and Psychological Services. I hope to one day work as a therapist for children and adolescents with mental illness.  

Emily JorgensonEmily Jorgenson, ‘16
Resilience, Well-being And Mental Health
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Maple Grove, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose UMR for a few reasons - small size, medical-based focus, high rigor courses and in an area that allowed for amazing opportunities at one of the top hospitals in the country.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone encompassed a few different experiences that came together to form one overarching theme. I worked as the student leader for the Recovery on Campus (ROC!) Living Learning Community to support students who were in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction; I took numerous psychology courses, online courses and healing-focused courses; I was a part of Grief Group and Living on Purpose; and I worked at NAMI Southeast Minnesota as a Peer Support Specialist with individuals experiencing severe and persistent mental illness.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My Capstone gave me real-life exposure to the field I was interested in - Co-Occurring Disorders. My Capstone was also based solely on experiences I was passionate about. After various personal experiences with addiction and mental health in my own life, I knew I wanted to make an impact larger than myself. As my Capstone developed, I learned that getting more advanced and specific education in this field would be necessary for me to begin this journey. A little over two years later, I’ve had my LADC (Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor license) for over a year and am 6+ months post-masters degree with ideas about getting more education to increase my impact.

What are you currently doing? I have a Masters Degree in Addiction and Mental Health Counseling and am licensed by the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy. I’m currently employed as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Center City, MN.

Kristi TauerKristi Tauer, ‘18
Resilience, Well-being And Mental Health
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Prior Lake, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose UMR for the health sciences focus, the proximity to Mayo Clinic and the small class sizes. For someone who knows they want to work in the health care industry, UMR is a great fit!

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone Experience was titled "Finding a Professional Purpose: Using life's experiences to propel a career in integrative health and wellness coaching." I used my Capstone to explore integrative health and well-being coaching and to verify it was my future career goal. I explored integrative health through a summer internship with UMR's Director of Health and Wellness, Kris Barry, and took a variety of courses through the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing. I also delved into my passion for mentorship through my work as a Resident Assistant at 318 Commons and as the Community Assistant for UMR's first Healthy Living Learning Community.  

How did your Capstone Experience prepare you for the future in what you are currently doing? My Capstone reinforced my love for mentorship and integrative healing practices. I realized my passion for working with someone one-on-one and helping them achieve their goals. Through the Capstone process, I realized how expansive the health field is, and my strengths and passions fit into a career I previously did not know existed. I learned about the many areas of well-being, and how valuable individualized care can be. I fondly think back on my Capstone Experience as the springboard into my future and the career I know I will love.

What are you currently doing? I am currently working at a functional medicine clinic called Newbridge Health and Wellness. I learn something new every day, and am falling more in love with my career path with each new thing I learn. I also just completed my first year in the Master of Arts program for Integrative Health and Well-being Coaching program the University of Minnesota. The program has been transformative and eye-opening to the entire scope of the health field, both in allopathic and traditional medicine. At the completion of this program, I will be able to coach people through lifestyle changes and help them overcome health challenges. Starting with my Capstone, I have realized the importance for holistic health care, and am excited to graduate with my Master's in December of 2020! 

Mason SchliefMason Schlief, ‘20
Resilience, Well-being And Mental Health
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Lowry, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose to come to UMR because it provided me a unique opportunity to be a part of a different kind of college experience, along with a focus on building connections inside the UMR community and beyond. I also had a fear of not getting the support I needed in classes, but UMR had a mixture of resources including small class sizes, JustASK, team teaching and much more, that made me feel that this was where I could be most successful and supported.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone Experience focused on discovering the very most basic things that I need to live and feel fulfilled, along with how to incorporate those aspects in my life and future plans. This began in The Contemplation of Resilience, Wellbeing and Mental Health Through Creativity where we explored the current state of mental health globally, nationally and locally, and were tasked with creating and implementing a creative session for adolescent patients at Generose 1W. This is where I thought deeply about what I needed to grow and share these things with others. I then traveled to Thailand for three weeks where I was able to learn about other ways of life and how they are connected to the things in my soil. This provided me with a new idea on what I wanted to do upon graduation and led me to collaborating with UMR faculty member, Yuko Taniguchi on her research regarding creative ways to address the issue of mental health.  

How did your Capstone Experience prepare you for the future in what you are currently doing? Not only did my Capstone provide me with the basic tools that I need to grow in any environment or position, I also rediscovered my passion for mental health. In my current position, I challenge myself to find ways to incorporate the things that I need to grow, but also to replenish myself. I look at things creatively and work to find ways to discover new perspectives and avenues in the hopes of providing support for those struggling with mental illness.

What are you currently doing? I currently work as a Mental Health Practitioner at Fernbrook Family Center in Rochester, MN. In this capacity, I serve clients in their home and in the community to help them develop skills to decrease barriers in their daily living. This includes encouraging clients to use appropriate coping skills to assist them with applying for jobs or programs.  

Patient Care

Eric MehlhaffEric Mehlhaff, ‘16
Patient Care
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Hartford, SD

Why did you choose to come to UMR? When I was entering my junior year of high school, I was mostly looking at colleges in South Dakota. I had no idea that UMR even existed. One day, my aunt randomly sent me a postcard about this brand-new, innovative program that focused on preparing its students for a future in health care. Given my professional aspirations at the time, I thought it would be a natural fit, and I decided to tour the campus. I vividly remember listening to several faculty members speak, and it was incredibly refreshing to hear about their passion for teaching. I truly felt like I wouldn’t be “just another face in the crowd.” Former Chancellor Lehmkuhle ultimately confirmed my decision to attend UMR when he discussed the three R’s – rigor, relevance and relationships. These three pillars were everything that I was seeking in an undergraduate program and their importance cannot be overlooked.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone experience at UMR was focused around utilizing classroom material and applying it towards real-world situations. By embarking on this project, I was able to take a variety of classes (social and biological sciences) that pushed my comfort zone and challenged my preconceived notions of the world around me. To complement the biological coursework, I conducted research at Mayo Clinic in a physiology lab and helped investigate renal and ocular manifestations secondary to membrane transport protein defects. I was also blessed with the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua and foster a deeper understanding of health and culture on a global scale.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My experiences both in-and out-of-the classroom solidified my desire to pursue medicine and helped refine my ability to view medical problems from several different and unique perspectives. With the frenzied culture we live in, it can be incredibly easy to pass judgment at face value; however, we must always remember to treat those around us with the proper respect and dignity that every person deserves. These Capstone activities undoubtedly stimulated personal growth and capacity for providing sincere and altruistic service towards others. It is necessary to not only provide care but also the feeling of being cared for. This is what matters most.

What are you currently doing? I am currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. I will graduate in May 2020 and aspire to specialize in Hematology-Oncology. 

Hannah SalkHannah Salk, ‘13
Patient Care
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Sartell, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose UMR because of its focus on the health sciences, small class size and the various opportunities in the Rochester area. Most importantly, UMR’s new curriculum meant that I could significantly influence my own trajectory in regards to courses, volunteering, research, etc. since I was encouraged to pursue and seek out opportunities that were important to me.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone involved a number of pre-requisite courses for medical school, research experience with the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group and world travel to Japan.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? It opened my eyes to the field of medical research, writing and grantsmanship. I became very familiar with the scientific process and scientific writing. I also was able to ensure that I took all the proper courses to apply to medical school. It also opened my eyes to other cultures in other parts of the world and how health care is influenced by culture.

What are you currently doing? I am currently a resident physician at the Duluth Family Medicine Residency program in Duluth, MN. I earned my MD from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. 

Megan ZimmermanMegan Zimmerman, ‘16
Patient Care
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Pine City, Minnesota

Why did you choose to come to UMR? When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a physical therapist and I assumed that the only way to be one was to go to a large university with thousands of other students. I learned about UMR from my cousin, who was a social worker at Mayo Clinic. She told me there was a new University in downtown Rochester that was exclusively focused on the health sciences. I came to visit and loved what I saw; I loved that students could meet their professors at the JustASK Center to get all of their questions answered. I knew that I would spend countless hours there soaking up as much knowledge as I could. I also loved how UMR was so integrated into the community. As a student, I wanted to be able to volunteer in my community and work with others, not just study in an isolated environment.  

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone experience was entitled: “Reflections on Mortality: Stories of Disability, Disparity, and Dying.” During the fall of my senior year, I took a Neuroscience course, I did a directed study with Yuko Taniguchi on Reflexive Writing and I was a writing intern with Andrew Montepetit at the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation. During the spring semester, I took a Sociology course called Medical Technology and Society, Capstone Reflections I and II, and I was a physical therapy intern at ExercisABILITIES in Rochester.  

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? I believe that my Capstone experience helped me discover what I love about medicine and were I fit into the health care system. I learned that I have a sincere passion for working to improve the quality of life for all of my patients through physical therapy. I grew as a student, and a person, and I was much more prepared for graduate school because of my Capstone experience. Additionally, though my Capstone experience, I built strong relationships that helped me transition from being an undergraduate student to a graduate student in a doctoral program.  

What are you currently doing? I graduated from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Mayo Clinic in 2019 and I’m working in the PT field. 

Zach DomeierZach Domeier, ‘13
Patient Care
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Oakdale, Minnesota

Why did you choose to come to UMR? There are numerous different reasons why I choose UMR. I was blown away by the innovation I saw at UMR during my first on campus tour. The Learn Labs, JustASK, and collaboration of classes are just a few of the innovations UMR was initiating that drew me to this campus. I also was sold on the idea of smaller class sizes compared to a traditional university. The decision was easy for me because I realized UMR would have the best resources for me to utilize that would allow me to reach my future goals.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone experience involved immersing myself and experiencing patient care in as many different health care experiences as I could so I could learn to be more flexible in the care I would eventually deliver to patients. I also wanted to appreciate the delivery of health care and an individual's health and well-being in their entirety. I volunteered as an emergency medical technician, a pharmacy technician and a dental assistant while I was pursuing my education at UMR. My Capstone was essentially a summary of all of those experiences and what I learned through them about myself and health care. I also discussed how those experiences would apply to my goal of becoming a physician assistant.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? More than anything, my Capstone experience allowed me to accumulate thousands of hours of health care experience while pursuing my degree full-time which allowed me to apply to physician assistant programs immediately after graduation. In a more holistic sense my Capstone experience truly shaped the way I practice medicine today. My Capstone allowed me to work directly with a variety of practitioners and mold my current practice from the strengths I witnessed in each of them. It also allowed me to work alongside various allied health staff to better appreciate how their work affects overall patient outcomes.

What are you currently doing? I work as a physician assistant in correctional medicine for the federal government. I practice medicine in an inpatient unit in a federal prison. 

Hawa AliHawa Ali, ‘16
Patient Care
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Rochester, Minnesota

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I grew up in Rochester MN, and had never heard of UMR until my mom mentioned it to me during my junior year of high school. She told me that there was this four-year university in town that focuses on health science and she thought it would be a good fit for me. During my visit to UMR, I was impressed with the collaborative feel and the dedication of the educators at UMR. 

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My capstone experience was focused on understanding and addressing disparate outcomes in health and education. With the help of my research mentor at Mayo Clinic, I created and conducted a research project that aimed to understand the disease burden of liver cancer in the Somali community. Additionally, I worked with the Somali youth at Rochester International Youth Organization (RIYO) to empower them to dream big and reach for their goals. 

How did your Capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? During my capstone, I learned foundational skills that have prepared me for my future in medicine. During my research experience, I gained the skills necessary to conduct chart reviews and large clinical trials. Additionally, throughout my capstone, I completed upper level coursework that helped solidify my basic knowledge which was integral to my success in medical school. 

What are you currently doing? I am currently a third-year medical student at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine - Twin Cities Campus. I will graduate in May 2021 and aspire to specialize in Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. 

Mackenzie RahnenfuehrerMackenzie Rahnenfuehrer, ‘17
Patient Care
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Rochester, Minnesota

Why did you choose to come to UMR? UMR is in my hometown allowing me to save money by living at home. I also enjoyed how much collaboration and involvement UMR has with Mayo Clinic. The BSHS program helped me learn more about health care careers in general which allowed me to discover the path that I wanted to pursue and how to get there.  

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My capstone included volunteer experience at Good Samaritan Clinic in the pharmacy department and work as a pharmacy technician at Costco. I took a few online pharmacy classes my junior and senior year through the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. 

How did your Capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? After graduation, I really wanted to apply to pharmacy school to become a pharmacist. With that in mind, my capstone helped me enhance my skills in patient interaction and understanding the different levels and complexities of pharmacy. 

What are you currently doing? I am a fourth-year pharmacy student at the University of Minnesota Duluth and on track to earn my PharmD in May 2021. 

Health Care Research And Discovery

Mohamed AddaniMohamed Addani, ‘18
Health Care Research And Discovery
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose UMR for its exceptional ideal location, especially its proximity to Mayo Clinic since I knew I was interested in a health degree. The small student to faculty ratio was also appealing.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone experience was about the multicultural lenses I used to make decisions about my life and career: being part of a Somali ethnic group while growing up in an Arab country, then experiencing and becoming a refugee in Jordan, to finally coming to United States. These experiences shaped the person I am today. The privilege of attending college and exploring any career I desire in itself was a foreign concept that I had to slowly accept. As a multilingual person, I worked with Rochester Public schools and Somali Rebuild Organization to assist refugees and students in general.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? I had never heard the term research when I lived in Middle East. As the oldest son, I was told since I was a child that it was expected of me to become a physician. My Capstone experience actually went against what I was expected to do and instead focused on pursuing what I loved, which was research.

What are you currently doing? I am currently employed as a post-bac research student under training to obtain the necessary skills and knowledge for graduate school to pursue a career as a future research scientist.

Kanza KhanKanza Khan, ‘13
Health Care Research And Discovery
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Buffalo, MN

What was your favorite class and why? My favorite class (and also most challenging) was Biochemistry. I really enjoyed Dr. Prat-Resina's method of instruction and how well he was able to engage students in his lectures. It was really meaningful to be able to gain a different perspective on reactions that are commonly discussed in other courses. One of the coolest projects I have ever worked on was a group activity in which the whole class (split into teams of 2-3) worked on examining and explaining a different section/enzyme reaction of the electron transport chain. Once all of the presentations were made, they were uploaded to Prezi, which was really cool because we were able to integrate all of our separate presentations into a single file. This project was really meaningful because it highlighted the complexity of a common process that we may sometimes take for granted.

What have you been doing since graduation? Since graduating UMR in 2013, I enrolled in a graduate program in Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). In December 2018, I graduated with a PhD in Psychology with an emphasis in Brain and Behavior. The focus of my graduate work was in studying stress states in adult zebrafish (Danio rerio). I have accepted a postdoctoral associate position in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Iowa and started there January 2019.

How was your education at UMR valuable to the work that you do now? I have learned so much at UMR. Beyond providing me with a quality education in health sciences, I have learned what it means to be a good teacher. In my time at the University of Southern Mississippi, I have been the instructor of record for a wide range of courses. In each course, I strive to emulate all the qualities of a good instructor - clear instruction, pausing to check for student understanding/questions, engaging students and teaching through group activities. These are all qualities that are shared by each instructor that I had at UMR, and I am eternally grateful for their patience and in the level of curiosity in the subject matter that they were able to inspire in students.

Jennifer RumleyJennifer Rumley, ‘18
Health Care Research And Discovery
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, Minor: Statistics
Hometown: Eagan, MN 

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I loved how small the class sizes were and how every class revolved around health sciences. I met some amazing friends early on and also picked the school due to the people. 

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? I worked at an eye clinic in downtown Minneapolis to gain patient care. I worked at a cadaver lab to gain surgical skills. I earned a minor in Statistics at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. I attended many research meetings and helped with the development of a few research projects at Tria Orthopaedics. And I also took many other classes (non-stats related) that I feel could also have been part of my Capstone experience. 

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? I went into my Capstone not knowing what I wanted to do after college, so I focused on gaining experience in many ways to find my niche in the medical field. I met so many people and made many connections. I believe the most important part of my Capstone experience was making connections. The only reason I got a job right after graduation was due to the connections I met during my experiences.

What are you currently doing? I was blessed to get a full-time job right after college as a Research Coordinator of the Orthopaedic Department for Regions Hospital/University of Minnesota. With this job I have been able to meet many physicians, learn about different orthopaedic procedures, engage in almost 70 different research projects and so much more. Even though it was a great job, I decided it wasn't for me and in August I pursued a career as a Surgical First Assistant at Mayo School of Health Sciences. 

Brady ZellBrady Zell, ‘18
Health Care Research And Discovery
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

What was your favorite class at UMR? My favorite class at UMR was the Ethics of Medicine and the Sciences course. The class was discussion-based where we were able to learn about a controversial topic like pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertising and then carefully consider the pros and cons and how philosophy can apply to the field. It broadened my knowledge of different practices in medicine, research, drug development and other fields and helped me to critically analyze situations as objectively as possible. Learning how to think has been absolutely essential in my current work.

What are you currently doing? Since graduation, I have been doing post-baccalaureate research at Mayo Clinic in the Graduate Research Employment Program (GREP). Specifically, I work in a vector and vaccine development lab where we engineer viruses to be used as therapeutic platforms. We essentially take virus DNA and remove the genes that would make it harmful to people and put genes into the virus that can be used to treat patients. Right now, I am working with mouse models that test a virus with capabilities of both directly killing lymphoma cancer cells as well as recruiting the body's own immune cells to fight the disease. I have actually just recently accepted an offer from a university to begin pursuing my PhD in this field.  

How did your Capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My education at UMR has been invaluable to prepare me for my current line of work. Coursework and faculty have taught me not only the basic scientific principles that are required knowledge for the research field, but they also taught me how to think critically and how to take a scientific approach to solving problems. Specifically, my direct study research experiences prepared me on how to collaborate and lead a research group. Together, we learned to "buckle down" when experiments were not producing the expected results and analyze what, how, and why we should change things. I do not know that I would have ever discovered my passion for science had it not been for the outstanding support and knowledge base that I received at UMR.

Rachel CoddenRachel Codden, ‘16
Health Care Research And Discovery
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Becker, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? As a first generation college student I wasn’t quite sure how to choose a college. I was set on attending the University of Minnesota, and during my visit to the Rochester campus I specifically enjoyed being solely surrounded by students pursuing a similar career path. I felt the medical focus and incredible location would support my passion through the four years.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone Experience was a culmination of academic, volunteer, and leadership experiences directed at preparation for graduate school. It consisted of directed research with Dr. Kelsey Metzger, serving as a leader for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement club, a volunteer experience with Olmsted County, and completing courses at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Although I did not pursue the graduate education I had intended during my capstone, the experiences I completed during that time were still very valuable in preparation for the graduate program I ultimately completed, a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota.

How did your Capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? By participating in a broad array of experiences, I was able to see how my education could be applied in various settings. I began to see how versatile my background in health sciences truly was, and I felt comfortable beginning graduate school in a related field.

What are you currently doing? After graduating from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health this spring, I began working as a Biostatistician at the University of Utah School of Medicine. I am involved in multiple clinical research projects including trials in pediatric multiple sclerosis, pain control in adolescents after scoliosis surgery and general pediatric emergency care. My role as a statistician is to analyze and interpret the study outcome data which will eventually become the basis of manuscripts.  

Public Policy And Global Health

Evan DoyleEvan Doyle, ‘13
Public Policy And Global Health
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Canton, SD

Why did you choose to come to UMR? My cohort was the first batch of undergraduates to undergo the integrated curriculum and innovative approaches to teaching and learning, which factored heavily into my decision to come to UMR. The opportunity to be part of such a new and unique undertaking was too good to pass up.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? For me, the Capstone Experience was an open-ended opportunity to explore anything and everything I was interested in outside of the classroom. I spent four months in Ecuador conducting a qualitative research study on barriers in access to health care services. These interviews with health care workers, along with the time spent volunteering in clinics across the country, provided me with an in-depth perspective on how a nationalized health care system functions. I then spent a National Student Exchange semester at Queens College and pursued two part-time internships in New York City. The first was with the Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) Department at Latino Commission on AIDS, a nonprofit that provides health education, HIV prevention services, capacity building, advocacy and health behavioral research for Latino communities. During this time, I evaluated the impact of a city-wide outreach campaign through bilingual street-intercept surveys and cross-borough data analysis. My second internship was with the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent, nonpartisan think tank. My job was to research and draft briefs on dual use research of concern and climate change’s effect on global health in preparation for upcoming roundtable meetings and publications by the Senior Fellow, respectively. I also tracked and maintained an online interactive map of international vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, which is still active and currently run by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? Through my Capstone, I discovered my career interests lay at the intersection of data, policy and international travel. In all honesty though, a series of ~4 month experiences were never going to provide the technical competencies I needed to land my dream job right out of college. Rather, aspects of each helped me learn which skills I needed to develop further to be successful. Having a preliminary understanding of M&E systems, analytical software and how data can be used to improve health programming led me to pursue a job at a research company in Saint Paul after graduating from UMR. Observing how politics and evidence are intertwined in global health policy development led me to approach my grad school thesis project pragmatically, incorporating both aspects into it design, which culminated in a national change to blood donation policy in the United Kingdom. Parsing out a foreign health system's complexities taught me that national policies don't always implement uniformly, and oftentimes the people with the best insights into breakdowns in equity are at the frontline. This perspective allowed me to add substantial value to my job after grad school, which involved assisting the Ministry of Health in Eswatini to understand and address their key bottlenecks in implementing a universal health coverage policy. Above all, I think undertaking such a diverse array of experiences for my Capstone helped me realize the endless opportunities that exist outside of 'traditional' clinical career paths. I'm grateful for using that open ended opportunity to thoroughly explore my interests, as it led me to pursue roles later on that I didn't even know existed during my time at UMR.

What are you currently doing? Presently, I work for the Clinton Health Access Initiative as the Country Support Manager for our HIV Prevention program (based in Johannesburg, South Africa). My job is to travel to various countries in East and Southern Africa to provide strategic and technical support to Ministries of Health on biomedical HIV prevention product adoptions and roll-outs. This predominantly involves policy development and program design for national provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which is a pill that's been shown to be >90% effective at preventing HIV transmission. In addition to my BS in Health Sciences from UMR, I also have an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. 

Aracely MontecinosAracely Montecinos, ‘16
Public Policy And Global Health
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Ramsey, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose UMR because of its focused curriculum, small school size and unique opportunities for students starting right at freshman year.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone experience involved my two main focuses of public health and mortuary science. I took courses at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and had the opportunity to live and work in Minneapolis during my 4th year while taking a wide variety of Public Health and Mortuary Science courses. My capstone allowed me to demonstrate to professionals and peers how we can learn so much about bettering our lives and communities by understanding death, the dying process and end-of-life care.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My Capstone was an excellent stepping stone for my current career in Organ, Tissue and Eye Donation with LifeSource. It allowed me to become better educated about the diverse communities I serve and how to effectively communicate with them about all aspects of donation and how it impacts their community.

What are you currently doing? I completed a Master of Public Health in December 2018 from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. I’ve been working at LifeSource for almost two years now and was recently promoted to a leadership position in my department that allows me to continue the mission of educating the communities about organ, tissue and eye donation.

Cassie KerstenCassie Kersten, ‘16
Public Policy And Global Health
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Nerstrand, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I started at UMR as a PSEO student during my senior year of high school. I wasn't originally planning to stay for the entirety of my degree, but after experiencing the unique learning environment and engaging with the faculty for a year, I couldn't imagine leaving!

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone revolved around comprehending and communicating scientific ideas. I did this through coursework, working as a teaching assistant for science classes, working on a research project in gene therapy at Mayo Clinic with Dr. Ikeda and working on a research project in biochemistry education with Dr. Terrell.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My Capstone experience taught me the importance of contextualizing science and always keeping the bigger picture in mind. While conducting rigorous, methodical research is incredibly important, it is equally important to be able to communicate the goals and results of your project in order to make the desired change. This is especially important to remember in public health, where much of the research can make a major impact on human health if approached and communicated correctly. 

What are you currently doing? I am currently pursuing a Master of Public Health ('20) in Global Epidemiology from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. For my summer practicum, I am a Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response ORISE Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Community Interventions for Infection Control Unit (CI-ICU). I am also co-president of the Student Outbreak and Response Team (SORT) at Emory, which provides student members with networking opportunities and hands-on training in emergency preparedness and outbreak response. 

Audra GaikowskiAudra Gaikowski, ‘20
Public Policy And Global Health
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, Minor: Public Health
Hometown: West Salem, WI

Why did you choose to come to UMR? Originally I planned on going Pre-Physician Assistant (PA) route and UMR seemed like the perfect place to focus on my studies necessary for PA school.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? For my Capstone I spent nine months in Quito, Ecuador doing the Minnesota Studies in International Development Ecuador program with an emphasis in public health. While in Quito, I spent three months in the classroom, taking Spanish, history and public health courses. I then spent two months doing an internship with an organization called la Secretaria de Salud where I worked on calculating and analyzing various adolescent and maternal health outcomes. Lastly, I spent four months conducting an independent research project with guidance from my internship site and school on the topic of teenage pregnancy, the social determinants of health that influence teenage pregnancy and the prevention methods being done for teenage pregnancy in a neighborhood called Cotocollao, a neighborhood with the highest teenage pregnancy rates. All of this culminated in a 57-page research report. For my last of three semesters in Capstone, I was at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus working towards a minor in public health.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My Capstone experience gave me the opportunity to practice my second language (Spanish), in which I am now proficient. Also, it gave me the opportunity to conduct independent, qualitative research, which allowed me to understand research from a very different perspective than what I had previously been exposed to. My experience abroad also deepened my passion for women's health and health equity, which is a passion that I carry to this day. This, combined with my classroom experience on the Twin Cities campus, prepared me for my next step: graduate school.

What are you currently doing? I am currently finishing my undergraduate degree on the Twin Cities campus and will be graduating Spring 2020. Beginning Fall 2020, I will be enrolled as a Maternal and Child Health Master of Public Health student.

Emerging Health Technologies

Nitya ChandiramaniNitya Chandiramani, ‘17
Emerging Health Technologies
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Apple Valley, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? There were a variety of factors that drew me to and kept me at UMR. Specifically, the small, close-knit campus culture, the exclusive focus on health care and the opportunity to build relationships with professors, professionals, peers and the community. 

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone was a holistic and wholesome experience that encompassed a three-fold approach of coursework, study abroad and internship experiences. My coursework included an emphasis on health care policy and business, the most impactful courses included: Principles of Microeconomics, Health Law, Safety & Ethics, Continuous Quality Improvement, Health Informatics and Health Economics and Policy. My study abroad trip to Japan through the UMR program, Philosophies of Wellness: Holistic Healing in Japan, was a life changing and invaluable experience that taught me an immense amount about myself and positively impacted my outlook on my professional and personal journeys. Finally, my internship experiences through the Program in Health Disparities and the Capitol Pathways program helped me explore my professional interests in research and policy through the underlying framework of data aggregation, synthesis and storytelling.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My Capstone and experience at UMR overall helped me understand three key lessons that not only prepared me for my career but helped me grow and find success in my work. First, the value of building and maintaining meaningful relationships. Second, the ability to articulate your unique story based on your experiences and journey. And third, bringing a continuous curiosity and constant drive to learn to every role, project and job. My Capstone afforded me the opportunity to explore a variety of avenues and ultimately helped me understand that my career goal and my story is defined by continuous learning and self-development. I want to learn about every facet of the health care system, from business operations to the member experience, to identify where I can add value and make a positive impact. One of the key themes in my Capstone was overcoming the notion of finding my "life direction," and my Capstone along with my journey through UMR helped me reach the conclusion that my life direction is about bringing a positive, driven and committed attitude to whatever company/community that I'm a part of and the series of micro-impacts in each community and workplace will sum up to a making a macro difference.

What are you currently doing? I am currently working as a Business Analyst on the Product & Vendor Management team in the Payment Integrity division of Stella (the parent company to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota). 

Alyson NarvesonAlyson Narveson, ‘15
Emerging Health Technologies
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Princeton, MN

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I chose to study at UMR because I was confident that I wanted to pursue a career in health care. I really liked how UMR taught all subjects from the perspective of medical professionals. There was no other undergraduate program that offered similar opportunities for learning.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My Capstone included writing a research paper with assistance from Prof. Winchip regarding the psychology behind different learning strategies. I also worked at Mayo Clinic as a Patient Care Assistant (PCA) in the urology/gynecology post-surgical department. As a PCA I assisted nurses and physicians in the care of patients recovering from various surgeries.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? I was able to work side-by-side with nurses and physicians caring for patients and learn various workflows/processes. This provided me with an understanding of how the health care system worked which is critical because I now teach clinicians how to better care for their patients. Through my research article for Prof. Winchip challenged me in that when I left my sessions with his feedback, I left with more questions than answers. He taught me that my learning was my responsibility and students learn so much more when they think critically and challenge ideas rather than relying on their professors’ knowledge or passively agreeing with published articles. This helps me every day, personally and professionally. We have so much information at our disposal and it is our responsibility as consumers to be able to distinguish between factual information and illegitimate nonsense. I would also argue that this has made me a better teacher for my clinics I work with and students at Arizona State University. I use the word “argue” because not everyone likes being challenged; it is uncomfortable, but if you embrace it, you will find that the security you build from wisdom far outweighs the discomfort you experience from pressure.

What are you currently doing? I received a Master of Science in Healthcare Delivery from Arizona State University in 2017. I work at an Accountable Care Organization, Nebraska Health Network (NHN), in Omaha, Nebraska. NHN’s focus is to improve the value of health care, i.e. improving quality of care while decreasing costs. I have worked at NHN as a Clinical Coordinator for just over a year now. In this role, I support physicians with their efforts in managing the overall health of patients through the dissemination of performance reports and dashboards as well as developing and hosting educational offerings. Just recently I was promoted to a data analyst where I will be responsible for analyzing data to assess quality, utilization, and cost opportunities which will be used to direct the efforts of our company and our partners. Additionally, I assistant teach undergraduate and graduate courses at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions online.

Nolan MeyerNolan Meyer, ‘17
Emerging Health Technologies
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: A complicated question for me. I’ve lived all over the country throughout childhood and then as an active-duty Navy diving medical technician. Having been in Rochester since 2013, we’ll go with that at this point.

Why did you choose to come to UMR? In 2012, I made the decision to separate from active-duty military service to pursue a career in medicine and science. I knew I wanted a pre-medical curriculum and UMR’s innovative approach to that attracted me. Also, it helped that my fiancé lived in Rochester at the time, which influenced my decision to move here from San Diego and begin my studies in UMR’s BSHS program.

What did your Capstone Experience at UMR involve? My capstone involved pursuing and completing a second Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics through the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus. A lot of stars had to align to even make the possibility of doing that a reality, including (1) prior completion of prerequisite coursework both online and through directed study with the fantastic and excellent Jered Bright; (2) close collaboration with my student success coach, the awesome Jenn Hooke; and (3) working with quite a few UMR and UMN-TC officials and faculty to ensure things would align administratively. Thankfully, things worked out and I was cleared to pursue a second major in Mathematics. In my final year, I took 16 and 19 credits all of upper-division mathematics and physics coursework through the Twin Cities campus, while commuting from Rochester three days per week. That year was strenuous and arduous, while also exhilarating and gratifying. I am very proud to have done it. In the end, I was able to leverage the strengths of both the Rochester and Twin Cities campuses of the University of Minnesota, becoming well-prepared to enter a rigorous PhD program.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My studies at the Twin Cities CSE following completion of the UMR BSHS curriculum allowed me to develop a strong foundation preparing me for PhD studies in Biomedical Engineering and Physiology at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The work I do is quantitatively rigorous, with the requirement of being clinically relevant. I need to have the scientific and mathematical skills to stand on my own as an academic signal processing engineer, while also being able to work closely with clinicians at the very top of their game to ensure that the work I do is medically meaningful. My capstone of pursuing a second major in mathematics laid the foundation for the former; my time as a UMR BSHS student, the latter.

What are you currently doing? I am now a third-year PhD candidate at Mayo Clinic working in the technical development of medical imaging, specifically magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Within MRI, my work is focused on signal processing, which could be described as the intersection of applied mathematics, electrical engineering, computer science and physics. On a daily basis, I work with world-renowned Mayo Clinic MR physicists, engineers and radiologists to develop algorithms that generate medical images of excellent diagnostic quality from data acquired in a manner which is in the best interests of patient comfort and clinical workflow—that is, fast. I am also honored and humbled to be a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow. After approximately five years of study in this program, I will defend my thesis; I hope to move on to a residency in medical physics or an academic postdoctoral research fellowship.

Conrad CruzConrad Cruz, ‘19
Emerging Health Technologies
Major: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, with electives focused on Molecular Biology and Laboratory Concepts.
Hometown: Ham Lake, Minnesota

Why did you choose to come to UMR? I wanted to go to a college that offered a focus in the health field.

What did your Capstone experience involve? My capstone experience involved an entry level position into the biotechnology industry as a lab scientist. I spent a majority of my time researching how people transition from college into the biotech industry. This included sending cold emails to directors of biotech companies and meeting people for informative interviews. During this time, I tailored my semester and extracurricular activities towards molecular biology while seeking out skills like biostatistics. I continued to work at Mayo Clinic as a research assistant in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell creation via Viral Vectors. I was offered a job as a Clinical-Grade Biomanufacturing Operator for Aldevron in February 2019, during my Capstone Reflection period.

How did your capstone experience prepare you for your future in what you’re currently doing? My capstone’s expected outcomes taught me the skills of researching and better tailoring yourself to a position you may be seeking. My unexpected outcome was that I learned to become more comfortable with uncertainty. I felt really unsure that this would all work out and whether this would be the final career I wanted. I had limited resources with information about the biotech industry, so I had to be comfortable with uncertainty.

What are you currently doing? I currently work at Aldevron as a clinical biomanufacturing operator for plasmid DNA. Each plasmid I make for our clients goes to human clinical trials to treat genetic disease, produce vaccinations or advance research in molecular biology treatments. I have plans to move into the Research and Development sector of Aldevron to bring my Mayo Clinic and UMR Research skills to work, and I may seek a Masters or PhD in Stem Cell Biology.