by Sabrina Goddard
It would be impossible to describe what my time and experiences at Ozarks have meant to me in anything short of an autobiography. I assure you that I am not being over dramatic or "cheesy" when I say that Ozarks changed my life and made me the person that I am today.
I was able to play basketball, which allowed me to stay sane in times of chaos. But the best part about Ozarks athletics is that school came first. Coach was so great about working around our schedule so that neither of my passions had to suffer. My teammates put the same value on education, so you were weird if you weren't getting good grades! This wouldn't have happened at a larger school.
My experiences as a tutor and supplemental instruction leader allowed me to stay up to date with classes that I had taken in the past. This was great to help me keep this information "fresh" in my head for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). However, the greatest part about this was that I realized how much I enjoyed teaching others. Because of this, I am now considering becoming a medical academician in the future.
What benefitted me most about Ozarks was the opportunity to do so many different things. This was so much more than resume building. I was able to learn to manage time and balance a hectic schedule, which is one of the biggest enemies of students in medical school. I remember in my interview that they asked if I thought that I could handle the intensity of medical school curriculum, because it was equivalent to 25 hours of course work. Ozarks allowed me to confidently say yes. If I could take 22 hours of course work, play basketball, tutor, go to club meetings, and volunteer, then I could handle medical school curriculum. Honestly, I felt like I have had way too much free time in medical school thus far (but Human Structure Class is just starting, so I will be eating those words soon).
I was fortunate enough to receive scholarships, so that I graduated completely debt free. This was extremely beneficial to me by removing any financial stress for both me and my family. It was also great to not have to compound any medical school debt with any undergraduate debt.
Ozarks has so many great funding opportunities for all areas of academia. I was lucky enough to receive a NASA grant through the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium that allowed me to do not only research that I was interested in, but to also gain experience in grant writing and budget planning. My research was also interdisciplinary, and allowed me to work with others outside of my field. This is so important in the medical field, as well as any professional environment. I now realize that the most applicable and beneficial area of my research came in the statistical analysis of my data as well as the meta-analysis of other studies. I feel like this definitely gave me a "leg up" in my Foundations of Biostatistics and epidemiology course.
While most of my colleagues despised their biochemistry class, my favorite class at Ozarks was biochemistry. We were given case studies, which allowed us to see the practical relevance of what we were studying. Rather than just memorizing pathways, I was able to see the devastating pathological effects associated with any aberrations. It was great, because it reminded me of why I was there and what I was working toward.
My molecular biology course probably prepared me the best for my first course of medical school. In molecular biology, we were expected to learn the material independently (which I complained about constantly, ask Dr. Coleman). However, that is exactly how medical school is. Because of this, I didn't have to study nearly as much in my molecular and cellular structure class, because I pretty much knew that book cover to cover!
The most useful classes at Ozarks were definitely the distribution courses. If I could give the underclassman any piece of advice, it would be to enjoy those and really pay attention. Through these courses, I was able to learn about different religions, political views, cultural backgrounds, and moral and ethical values. Understanding and respecting others' values and beliefs are key in any environment, especially a professional one. I also was able to discover some passions that I wouldn't have otherwise known - such as ceramics!