Jan. 22, 2018

Whether they come to BVU to learn about computers, or with goals of making a difference in underdeveloped countries, many BVU students begin their journey with an interest in one area of science or another. While some know exactly what their post-college aspirations are, and some simply feel at home in chemistry classes, the exclusive possibilities bridging their present and future are endless thanks to a $2.7 million endowment from Harry Stine and the Stine Family Foundation. For science students at BVU, cutting edge campus research, transformational internships, and academic travel to the jungles of Peru, mountains of Nepal, and the African veldt of Tanzania were never as available as they are today.

Goal: Build on Student Ambition Without Barriers

With this increase in funding, the BVU science curriculum has an enriched delivery method spanning beyond lectures, and takes lessons of the classroom into the real world. Erin Morley, Class of 2017, completed a Wilderness First Responder course hosted by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Bemidji, Minn., providing her with a glimpse into the world of wilderness medicine. Erin learned how to gauge potentially dangerous situations in the back country and how to respond to medical emergencies when they arise. “Through lectures and mock-situations led by experienced wilderness medical professionals, the course taught me many useful skills including how to initially assess patients; protect them from potential spinal injuries; how to treat head, chest, and bone injuries; shock; long-term patient care; and much more.” She plans to take these skills with her to Wyoming for a NOLS Wilderness EMT course. “My time in Minnesota and the EMT course will propel me to the next step of my journey in becoming a rural family practice physician and will also give me a deeper look into wilderness medicine and the careers and opportunities available within that field.”

According to Dr. Kristy McClellan, Chair of the Stine Endowment Committee and associate professor of biology, she and her colleagues want to expand student possibilities at BVU and eliminate the cost barriers to exploration. “Big topics such as world health and food production are major issues today, and BVU wants to be a part of solving them,” she says. BVU students are now more prepared than ever to tackle scientifically-based problems and are better able to find their place in the world through their education.

“This real-life experience has provided me with a set of skills that I can now work to develop, which is excellent preparation.”

Rosalind Russell

Valued Skills in Healthcare

From the 22nd floor of Rochester, Minnesota's Guggenheim Building, Jacob Braddock, a senior biology major from Swea City, worked to find a cure for cancer during his research fellowship at Mayo Clinic. Jacob was among 150 students from across the country selected for the highly-competitive opportunity in the lab of Dr. Stephen Russell, a principal investigator in the department of virology and gene therapy and member of the BVU Board of Trustees. By the end of the summer, Jacob had successfully created an intended construct (the first of its kind according to current literature) and began testing its killing ability on tumor cell lines. This experience helped with his acceptance into medical school last fall.

Many BVU science students are interested in pre-health, and through Stine funding, find themselves scrubbing in on surgeries, pulling teeth, and even delivering babies in other countries. “Our students are learning and engaging at a global level and are frequently seeing beyond their existing horizons. Because the level of education in developing countries is often lower than that of the United States, our students arrive with skills that are valued by foreign health care providers,” says Dr. James Hampton, Stine Endowed Chair and professor of biology.

Not only do the Stine funds support life-transforming travel, but also career-enhancing experiences closer to home and near campus. Olivia Zwaschka, Class of 2017, completed a Rural Health Fellowship over January Interim which allowed her to visit three dental offices with several different specialties. Associates in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Mankato, Minn. was her first stop, where she viewed oral surgery and even had the opportunity to scrub in. Olivia also witnessed the process of braces for patients of all ages at different stages in their alignment progression at her second week-long location.

Olivia's third and final week of her Rural Health Fellowship was spent in Storm Lake at Dr. Dan Douglas' office, which she deemed exceptional. “I was able to see just about every dental procedure, along with different cases for the hygienists to polish and clean teeth. During the end of my fellowship, I even had the chance to use a dental drill for the first time and take an impression and make a mold of my own teeth. The Fellowship made me really excited for all of the dentistry possibilities in my future.”

Big Ideas, Bigger Outcomes

With learning and career preparedness as a focus, students like Jacob Hollister and Rosalind Russell have enrolled in a class called “wolves and north woods carnivores: predatory ecology” at the Audubon Center of the Northwoods. Jacob, a senior environmental science major from Des Moines, and Rosalind, a senior interdisciplinary sustainable development major from Rochester, Minn., learned from lead researchers in studies on deer, wolves, and black bears in Minnesota. Wolf ecology and observation of captive wolves, lynx, cougars, bobcats, deer, coyotes, fox, and bear took place, as well as habitat analysis and tracking. Each day was full of variety, from visiting wolf and cat sanctuaries and kill sites, to learning about the impacts of hunting, policy, and research on the dynamics of the ecosystem.

For Rosalind, who is interested in understanding the relationship between humans and the environment, spending three weeks in Minnesota's Northwoods proved to be invaluable. “As I move forward, I am thankful for having had the opportunity to meet so many successful people in a field that I aspire to become successful in myself. It brings great confidence in me to know that I now have a better sense of what I must do in order to achieve my goals. This real-life experience has provided me with a set of skills that I can now work to develop, which is excellent preparation.”

In order for a student to have access to Stine funding, they must first submit a proposal to the Stine Committee explaining how it would contribute to their academic and professional development. Students are also required to create their own budget and reflect on their experience after completion through a presentation. According to Benjamin Donath, Dean of the School of Science and associate professor of mathematics, “That's when we see how much the students learned. None of these experiences are simply trips; they have significant educational components, and hands-on experience.”

Because the travel piece of the program is built around students and their enthusiasm, the Stine Committee encourages BVU students to dream big, and to see their BVU experiences as a seed which has just been planted. With hard work and a growing desire to keep learning, students will have what it takes to nurture their goals, find their place, be successful, and make a difference in the world.