The Experiences of a Transfer Biology & Biomedical Health Science Major

Hello! My name is Shannon Keller, an upcoming senior here at SBU, aspiring to be a physician assistant. A little bit about me is that I am from a small town called East Aurora, located in the south towns of Buffalo. Something you might not know about me is that I went to Ohio University my freshman year, where I started off majoring in the pre-professional biological sciences. After that year, I transferred to SBU and kept my major in Biology. I am now a double major in Biology and Health Science with a biomedical concentration, and I am currently working on two research projects: with the Biology Department, I am an undergraduate research assistant, researching “The Effects of Disinfection Byproducts on Early Zebrafish Development”; and I am also carrying out independent research on “The Short-Term Health Effects of Vaping”, which will transition into my senior project for my Health Science Seminar. I also spearhead a project to help lower the cost of prescription drugs in Cattaraugus County with SBU’s Health Care Access Coalition. Bottom line, transferring to Bonas has been the best and most rewarding years of my life.

I have always been someone to go for the hardest option first, to see what I’m capable of, and push my limits.

Let’s be honest. Every Biology major is a bit skeptical of everything: the rigor of the class schedule, the academic competition, and then getting acceptance into graduate school programs. Then you have the “weed-out” courses: genetics, organic chemistry, cell biology, and physics, and all with 4+ hour labs… It definitely isn’t the easiest major to pursue, or orthodox layout for that matter. Your time is filled with studying, going to office hours when you’re still confused, and trying to find somewhere or sometime to get MORE COFFEE in between.

Despite all the time being sucked out of my schedule, I absolutely thrive from it. The reason why “weed-out” courses exist is to find who really wants it, who personally desires to understand things that take the most time and energy out of every single day, and who has the determination to want more of it. When you have a drive like that, you’ve essentially ignored all competition and are seeing what you’re truly made of. It’s not about taking pride in what you’re doing at the moment- it’s about sticking it out, working hard, and pushing yourself further. Your only competition is yourself. Never think about the rewards, just keep tackling at what’s in front of you. And when the semester is over and you look back, you’re happy you did it, and you’re ready for more.

Coming to SBU from OU, a school with 30,000 people, the opportunities for me to build myself here seemed endless. The smaller class sizes, the personal relationship with professors, and goodness of people here have made me into someone that truly believes in helping others and passing that aspect on to the future generations here at SBU. For example, some of my first classes here was genetics and physics. The thought of either of those subjects made me want to avoid it at all costs, and do something else with my career path… but then I met my professors.

At OU, I always thought college would be someplace where you sit in class of 200-400 people, take notes, leave, study, and take a test at some point. At SBU, the personal relationship with the professors made me care about what I was learning, and actually made me… excited… to take a test because I was confident in succeeding. From that moment on, I knew coming to SBU would be the best decision I had ever made. I actually understood and cared in great depth about what was going on in my classes; it made me want to learn more, which is why I started researching with the Biology Department the following semester. The professors here at SBU are exceptional and irreplaceable. I have never been more grateful to be mentored by such intelligent, caring, and understanding individuals in my experience with the absolutely paramount professors here.

Mid-way through my junior year, I met Jean-François, who teaches the Franciscan Approach to Healthcare class in the Clare College. Before I was even aware of what he did at SBU, I found myself already talking to him about the medical field and how much I had developed a passion for it through my time thus far at SBU. Upon further conversation and a couple weeks time, I am now a part of a community-based project to lower the cost of prescription drugs in Cattaraugus County through his organization, alongside other professors and students at SBU. His impeccable passion for extending aide to the community surrounding SBU has been such a great insight for what we as students can actually do for others, and he sets a perfect paradigm for how SBU’s philosophy applies to the world beyond college.

Having said all of this, if you are interested in or have questions about health science, biology, research, or any of the above: feel free to send me an email, or ask me in person if you see me around! I would be more than happy to help, and thanks for reading! 

Article by Shannon Keller.