Outstanding CVMBS undergrads reflect and look ahead

Commencement is May 13-15, when 119 undergraduates in CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will receive their degrees. We’re celebrating by sharing just a few snapshots of students and their achievements. Congratulations to all our graduates! For complete information about commencement ceremonies, visit CSU's commencement webpage. Othman “Toomy” Alkubaisi, B.S., environmental health Alkubaisi came to CSU sponsored by Aramco, a Saudi Arabian oil company with a highly selective scholarship program. When he applied to U.S. schools, Alkubaisi was interested in Fort Collins for its beautiful weather. He quickly learned the city and university would mean so much more to him: “In the end, if I went back in time and had to choose again, I would choose the same major at the same university,” he said. Alkubaisi is developing a learning-based app for anyone studying to be credentialed as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist. After graduation, he will return to family and friends in Saudi Arabia and will pursue a career in environmental health. Advice for incoming students: “This is college! Ask questions, explore the world, and make great memories with great friends. And please stay safe. Nothing is worth wasting your life for.” Meagan Chriswell, B.S., biomedical sciences Chriswell is a scientist by day and pianist in her spare time, playing piano for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients at a local assisted living home. These experiences have helped her realize “life is best for me when I am making life a little bit better for those around me.” With that creed, she plans to pursue a combined medical degree and Ph.D. to focus on making effective and inexpensive treatments for infectious diseases. “I hope that my research and medicine can make life better for people who are down on their luck,” Chriswell said. Advice for incoming students: “Find something, no matter how small, that you can be happy doing for the rest of your life. It might be a little strange – for instance, I really like parasites – but that's absolutely alright.” Josh Ferreri, B.S., environmental health Ferreri was born and raised in Fort Collins, but he has crossed the ocean for environmental health research. He worked with Brooke Anderson, an assistant professor of epidemiology, to study health effects associated with severe environmental events and traveled to China this year to discuss and study the impact of the 2013 high-pollution episode in Beijing. Majoring in environmental health fueled Ferreri’s passion for understanding the relationship between humans and the environment, and his desire to serve others through research and medicine. After graduation, he will pursue degrees in medicine and epidemiology. Advice for incoming students: “Be bold in your time at CSU, and reach out to other students and faculty. You would be surprised by what doors can open through a simple question or interaction.” Jacob Machmer, B.S., biomedical sciences You could say Machmer is quick on his feet. As a dancer with Canyon Concert Ballet in Fort Collins, he has performed in numerous productions, including “The Nutcracker.” Machmer, a Fort Collins native, also enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking and yoga – part of the reason he stayed in his hometown to attend CSU. “My favorite part about CSU is that it accomplishes more feats, and impacts more people, than I am capable of understanding. Every day I continue to learn more about what this great institution does,” he said. Machmer will dance professionally for a while after graduation, and plans to later attend medical school. Advice for incoming students: “Prioritize balance in your life. Find passion in your academics, and complement that with the things that fill up your time outside of class.” Ronald Mills, B.S., microbiology and environmental health Mills is a first-generation student who traveled more than 3,000 miles from Anchorage, Alaska, to study microbiology and environmental health. He appreciated the influence of CSU professors. “Each professor has their own individual flare that makes them unique,” Mills said. “I will really miss interacting and learning from them.” He also learned off campus, with a job for the Dairy Farmers of America and an internship at the University of Northern Colorado. Advice for incoming students: “College in a science major can be really difficult, but don't give up. It's only a little part of your time at CSU. Just keep on trucking along, and you'll love the outcome!” Avery Olson, B.S., biomedical sciences Her friends say Olson has been a leader among peers since the day she unloaded her car and moved into the dorm as a freshman. She has volunteered each year with Care for Zumbo, a mobile medical clinic in Zumbo, Mozambique, in Africa. She is also an angler who works at St. Peter’s Fly Shop in Fort Collins. After graduation, Olson will return to Africa and will work for the mobile medical clinic before returning to the United States for medical school. Advice for incoming students: “Don't be afraid to explore your interests. Take random classes, join off-beat clubs, experience the world, and enjoy the journey. Now is the time!” Heidi Roche, B.S. microbiology http://source.colostate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/heidi.roche_.jpgDuring Roche’s first year of college, her mother was paralyzed in an accident, prompting the freshman to transfer from the University of Colorado to CSU so she could become the primary caregiver for her mother and two siblings. Despite the extreme stress, Roche has seen one sibling off to college, has taught the other how to drive, and has helped her mother regain independence. “I now believe I am capable of anything,” Roche said. Roche has been accepted into the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and strives to become a world-class surgeon. Advice for incoming students: “Reach out to your faculty. They are wonderful people, and making relationships with them is one of the best things you can do for yourself; they support you, feed your passions, and help you reach higher.”  John Shannon, B.S., biomedical sciences Shannon missed nearly six weeks of his sophomore year at CSU after he broke his neck and spent nine days in the hospital — but that didn’t slow his quest to attend medical school. He joined the CSU Honors Program, spent time as a CVMBS ambassador and worked as a hospital volunteer. Shannon dove into undergraduate research, working at five different laboratories across the country, including at CSU, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vanderbilt University and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. After graduation, Shannon will work at the National Institutes of Health researching viral diseases for one year before he applies to medical school. Advice for incoming students: “Study abroad, if given the opportunity. It’s an amazing opportunity and gives you a more holistic view.”

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