Running down Broad Street, three years ago, I remember seeing the street sign for Allegheny Avenue and thinking back to my recent alternate spring break APEX (the Appalachian Experience) trip to Allegheny Highlands, VA. I happened to look to my left and saw Temple’s Kornberg School of Dentistry; although I had known since high school that I wanted to become a dentist, this was the first time I had really set my sights not only on attending dental school but specifically Kornberg. Additionally, it was through the guidance of my pre-health advisor, Mrs. O’Hara, that I was able to partake in the Gateway to Dentistry program at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, which helped me to definitively decide that I wanted to pursue a career in dentistry. During winter break of my junior year, I got to spend a week at the dental school in an interactive program that previewed clinical techniques and life as a dental student. I am lucky to say that Christmas came early, and I have known since December that I will be spending my next four years, not only in the wonderful city of Philadelphia but also at my school of choice.
Coming to SJU with my goals in mind, I followed a traditional biology track while maintaining an interest in pre-dentistry. As a biology student, I was given all the tools necessary to be successful academically but Saint Joseph’s also presented me with a variety of opportunities that would set me apart from the thousands of other dental school applicants. Even before my freshman year began, I participated in the B.E.A.G.L.E. (Biology Experience Aimed at Growth, Learning and Excellence) program, which is a biology boot camp. Although I gave up my last week of summer to sit in lectures and study for quizzes and an exam, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made – not only was I able to see what would be expected of me for the next four years but I also met the professors, explored the campus, and made some of my best friends to this day.
For the past two years, I have served as a Supplemental Instructor (SI) for both the fall and spring semester introductory biology courses. This position required that I sit in on all of the lectures and hold two one-hour review sessions, out of the classroom, to help students review class materials and promote integrative learning. It has been both a helpful and rewarding experience to continuously solidify the fundamentals that have been so crucial to the rest of my academic career, while also being able to watch and help others succeed.
In my four years as a Biology major, Histology was my hardest class but it was also my favorite. Although I found myself constantly studying, I was still struggling a lot. My professor, Dr. Tefft, knew that I could do better, pushed me to work harder, and set aside time each week to help me review concepts and find a proper study strategy. Over the course of the semester, the more time and effort that I put into the class, the more I learned, the more I appreciated the class, and the more thankful I was for the high level of support and concern I received from Dr. Tefft. It is experiences like these at SJU that I feel have given me confidence and prepared me to be successful in the future. Even outside of the Biology department, I have been able to seek advice from other professors that have encouraged me and helped define who I am today.
All in all, I feel so blessed to have made some great memories and relationships that will last a lifetime and sustain me through the next steps of my journey. I am beyond grateful for all of the people, experiences, and opportunities that have presented themselves to me and been so influential over these past four years. I know that coming to Saint Joseph’s University was the right decision for me so although I will be a Temple Owl next year, I will forever be a Hawk.
Veronica Brandley is a member of the SJU Class of 2015 and graduating with a degree in Biology with a minor in Business for Non-Business students. She is from Glenside, PA. During her time on Hawk Hill, she was Co-Director of Hand-in-Hand, a Supplemental Instructor, a Hawk Host Tour Captain, a 4:16 Retreat Leader, Treasurer of Delta Delta Sigma, an Undergraduate Fellow in the Catholic Institute of Bioethics and a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, Alpha Epsilon Delta and the Dean’s Leadership Program.