Meet Logan O’Donnell '22, from Media, PA. Logan spent her four years at Bryant University preparing to make a difference. She’s always loved science and helping others so a career in medicine, she decided, was a perfect fit. “I want to be prepared to be the best doctor I can be,” Logan says.
Logan, who majored in Biology: Pre-Health and minored in Psychology, found mentors, experiences, and an education that helped her get ready for a challenging and rewarding career. A member of Bryant’s Division I Lacrosse Team, she compares her time in college to preparing for a championship game. “The more practice you can get, the better you're going to perform,” she notes.
Preparing for success
Being a doctor, Logan says, means being able to rise, and overcome, a wide variety of challenges. Bryant helped her build a foundation for success. “When I think of all the experiences I’ve had in the lab and in the classroom and through my internships, I’ve learned how to handle so many different kinds of situations,” she says. “That’s definitely going to help me in medical school or applying to research organizations, where I might not always have someone available to back me up: I’ll be able to succeed on my own.”
She points to one of her favorite courses at Bryant, Immunology and Disease, as an example. Taught by Kirsten Hokeness, Ph.D., Director of Bryant's School of Health and Behavioral Sciences and Professor and Chair of the Biology and Biomedical Sciences department, the class offered a broad introduction to a future in medicine. Studying immunological principles, key methodologies used by immunologists, and the practical applications of immunology research gave her insight into what her future would look like and how she could excel in it.
“I think that it’s very important, especially going into the medical field, to have hands-on experience doing research. It shows that you don’t just understand the general concepts because you’ve read about them, you’re actually able to put them to use.”
Professor Hokeness, who was an important mentor for Logan throughout her four years at Bryant, helped her understand how the ideas the class explored would make a difference in the real world. That mix of engaging coursework and one-on-one support, Logan says, helped her to build a strong foundation for her medical career. “It was probably one of the most difficult classes I I've taken, but it provided me with so much insight that I was able to apply to my other classes. It will definitely help me going forward.” she notes.
Logan also expanded her education beyond the classroom. As a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow, she researched gene expression in real-life laboratory conditions with Assistant Professor of Biology and Biomedical Sciences Steven Weicksel, Ph.D., which helped her get a head-start in her field.
“It was really valuable to get inside a lab and actually experience an aspect of my future career,” says Logan. “I think that it’s very important, especially going into the medical field, to have hands-on experience doing research. It shows that you don’t just understand the general concepts because you’ve read about them, you’re actually able to put them to use.”
The lab work offered other practical lessons as well. “My lab experiences helped me learn how to solve problems, innovate, and work past obstacles,” she notes. “That will definitely be helpful in my career.”
“You have such a large network of people here that are working to help you succeed. There’s always someone looking out for you.”
Her research with Dr. Weicksel also provided the nucleus for Logan’s year-long Honors Thesis project, where she mapped gene expression data in order to advance cancer research. It was a lot of work, Logan reflects, but it was definitely worth it. “I feel like if you're passionate about something, you're going to kind of branch out more and try to learn as much as you can about it,” she states, noting that she has seen how cancer has affected her own family and that she was grateful for the chance to further research in that field. “My Honors Thesis let me focus on an area I care about,” she says.
A caring community
Bryant is a fantastic place to build your path to success, Logan says, noting the range of mentors she’s discovered throughout the Biology faculty and the opportunities they’ve helped her explore. “You make such a close connection with your professors, and they want to help you in any way that they can,” she states. Logan also found encouragement from her Lacrosse teammates when she wasn’t studying or in the lab. “You have an entire team of people who are there to support you and help you reach your potential by being the best person that you can be,” she says.
Bryant’s supportive network, Logan has found, is a lasting one. During her gap year between graduating and applying to medical schools, University alumni and her former professors have provided invaluable advice and helped to answer her questions about the application process and her path forward. “One of the most incredible things, I’ve discovered about the Biology program is how the connections I made during my time at Bryant have continued on past graduation,” she says. "The fact that you stay involved with so many of the people you meet is amazing."
As she prepares for medical school, Logan, who’s always wanted to help people more than anything else, says that Bryant has played an important role in helping her take that next step. “You have such a large network of people here that are working to help you succeed,” she states. “There’s always someone looking out for you.”