North Central College - Naperville, IL

New options for health fields

New in fall 2011, North Central students can complete a new major in the field of chemical microscopy, which involves the use of microscopes to analyze nonbiological material. Opportunities for minors include bioinformatics — the application of statistics and computer science to the field of molecular biology — and neuroscience, the study of the nervous system.

Chemistry major Chris Allen wanted to prepare for a pharmacy career at a small college so he could form relationships with his professors, like Jeff Bjorklund, professor of chemistry. Chris assisted him with summer research. “It really helped me improve my problem-solving skills,” he says. Chris has worked at Martin Avenue Pharmacy in Naperville, one of the few pharmacies that develop custom medications for patrons. “All the experiences I’ve had are helping me transition into my career,” says Chris, who intends to apply to pharmacy programs at the University of Illinois-Chicago and Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL.

Caila Byrd, biochemistry major, is prepping for medical school by conducting research with Jonathan Visick, associate professor of biology. They are using E. coli bacteria cells (which mimic aging in humans) to study genes linked to degenerative diseases. “I would love to do research at a place like Loyola University and then go on to medical school,” she says. “I’ve learned research techniques and presentation skills that are preparing me for graduate and medical schools. North Central differs from other schools because of its hands-on research programs and that’s why North Central graduates are so well-prepared.”

Mychall Cornejo is approaching his potential health career from another angle: by combining an exercise science major with a dance minor. “I’d like to become a physical therapist who’s involved with performers,” he says. “North Central was one of the few schools I applied to that was a liberal arts college, meaning I would still be able to pursue a medical career while being involved in music and theatre.” On campus, Mychall has performed in Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and The Wedding Singer. Off campus, he has shadowed doctors and nurses, works as a pharmacy technician and intends to find an internship with a physical therapy practice.

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