SLU Student Outcomes: Straight into Doctorate Programs
By Chloe Mitchell ’21
As St. Lawrence prepares to send its students into the world after four years of hard work, memories and degrees to match those achievements, several soon-to-be graduates are preparing to jump into various advanced graduate programs across the country.
Here are just a few of the standout students who are pursing various doctoral programs following graduation:
After the tassel switch, Parker Johnson ’19 will pursue a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) track at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. “My father is a general dentist in my hometown of Saratoga Springs (New York). I was always a science-oriented student, and the appeal of being both a practicing doctor and operating my own business seemed right up my alley.”
Johnson helped create the Pre-Dental Society on campus. “We planned trips to dental hands-on workshops, scheduled oral hygiene units at local schools, and worked to share useful insight and information with each other.”
Johnson, who majored in biology and business in the liberal arts, was also able to shadow alumnus Dr. Paul Levi ’62, a periodontist in Burlington, Vermont. During the mentorship, Johnson said, “I gained insight that truly helped shape my decision for a dental career in the future and what specialty I might seek,” he explains. “These experiences and skills I’ve learned through SLU’s alumni network, I believe, gave me leg up in my dental school interviews and also a head start on what I can expect to be learning in dental school, and to better my career in the long term.”
Johnson plans to pursue a career in general dentistry somewhere in the Northeast, with the idea of opening up a private practice geared towards helping high-fear patients with dental needs.
Paige Currie ’19 of Lockport, New York, will pursue a Ph.D. in behavior analysis at West Virginia University. “I’m a first-generation college student, and I’ve always had a passion for learning as well as teaching,” she says.
Currie, who majored in psychology and minored in sociology and music, worked closely with Marsha Sawyer, director of CSTEP and McNair, and Assistant Professor of Psychology Adam Fox as a research assistant on various academic interests. “They helped me to find programs that most matched my research interest and personal goals.”
Currie found her niche at St. Lawrence through the Department of Performance and Communication Arts, where she was involved in various dance and theatrical performances. “It helped me become a well-rounded student to meet and cultivate a group of student and faculty relationships outside of my major,” she explains. “It was crucial for me to step away from one academic worldview and be able to look at a different perspective.”
With her advanced degree, Currie says she hopes to, “pursue a teaching career at a small liberal arts college, where I can be a mentor for future students and create long-lasting networks like the ones I had.”
“I always wanted to go into education because my mom is a teacher. However, I also love being a student,” says Abigail Enders ’19 a chemistry major from Centerville, Maryland, who will enroll in the physical chemistry Ph.D. program at Ohio State University. “St. Lawrence gave me the opportunity to pursue research for three years and complete full-time research over the summers, allowing me to gain experience that qualified me for graduate admissions.”
As part of the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, Enders co-wrote with her faculty mentor a sophisticated organic chemistry research article, titled “Determining the Mechanism of the Wagner-Jauregg Reaction by Analysis of Reaction Rates: A Kinetics Study. The research was later presented by Assistant Professor of Chemistry Samuel Tartakoff at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Enders one day hopes to become a professor of chemistry herself and nurture the same drive for learning in other students. She considers her professors the raw guide to make her passions a reality. “My professors have given me the guidance necessary to make the most of my time at St. Lawrence,” she says.
David Bain ’19 of Spofford, New Hampshire, took on research at St. Lawrence, where he learned the key to his passions. “I enjoy actively thinking about problems and finding solutions to stuff that you can't just look up. It's a different kind of learning than sitting in class.”
Bain, who majored in chemistry and minored in mathematics and physics, was a Peterson Quantitative Resource Center and physics tutor, a lab teacher assistant, and a member of men’s track and field and canoe racing teams. With the strong desire for students to pursue research at St. Lawrence, Bain says, “Having the chance to do this means that you learn how-to pull-on knowledge from all of the classes you've taken and really watch yourself develop into a well-rounded individual.”
He relies on this information whenever working. "I have been designing and building a cell for a cuvette with an electrical circuit; this is mostly physics. But, the measurements I'll eventually make using this apparatus I'm constructing is entirely chemistry. The data analysis I do relies on mathematics & statistics
Bain will pursue his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.
“St. Lawrence provided the opportunity for personal and academic growth,” says Sarah Yablonski ’19, a North Country resident from Gouverneur and neuroscience major about her last four years.
Yablonski was not only involved with research on campus, but also became a trained Advocate, the yearbook co-editor, and spent a semester abroad in Denmark. She also credits St. Lawrence with helping her prepare to apply and enter a Ph.D. program in the neuroscience program at the University of Rochester. "One of the biggest ways SLU has helped me prepare is through my SYE. I've been working with (Associate Professor of Biology and Psychology and Sarah Johnson '82 Professorship in the Sciences) Ana Estevez on a project investigating cerium oxide nanoparticles and their potential to serve as therapeutics for neurodegenerative conditions such as stroke and Alzheimer's disease," Yablonski said. "This has allowed me to get experience with the entire process of designing and conducting a research project, which is incredibly useful for graduate school."
Yablonski recalls that she was always encouraged to explore her passions and able to make close connections with faculty members. “I came to St. Lawrence not knowing what field to pursue,” she says. "St. Lawrence provided me with the opportunities to explore all my interests and, once I had decided on a major, really get involved in my department. I was always encouraged to explore my passions and was able to make close connections with faculty members."
“When I was a freshman, I wasn't really sure what career I wanted to pursue,” says Hannah Jones ’19 of Hampton, New York, who is pursuing a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) at the University of New England in Portland, Maine. “When I tore my ACL the spring of my freshman year, I took a real interest in understanding the mechanics of the exercises I was instructed to perform. It was under less than ideal circumstances, but that’s when I was introduced to the field of physical therapy.”
From there, Jones shadowed several physical therapists and knew this was the right career for her. “The thought of constantly moving and interacting with clients on a regular basis was very appealing to me, and I love to watch people make progress toward their goals” says Jones, who majored in biology and minored in sports study/exercise science and mathematics. “I think PT is the perfect fit for me because it combines all of my interests, plus my attention to detail will come in handy during evaluations and throughout the treatment process.”
Already, Jones has taken a special interest in both women's health and geriatrics and is leaning toward a residency in either after she finishes the program. “I don't want to get too ahead of myself here, but PT is something I'm really passionate about and I'm definitely excited to take on these next three years.”