North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College students prepare for careers in health sciences and medicine

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Rebecca Kirk
Rebecca Kirk

Oct. 19, 2011—At North Central College, pre-health students get a full dose of preparation: academics, research opportunities, field experiences, personal counseling and placement assistance.

Rebecca Kirk, a junior with majors in biochemistry and psychology, has had her heart set on becoming a doctor for as long as she can remember. “I’ve wanted to become a pediatrician since the day I was born,” she says.

Kirk spent time shadowing a local doctor this summer, which reaffirmed her love for medicine. “This doctor has a small practice and close relationships with her patients,” she says. “I saw wellness physicals and immunizations, even listened to the crackle of mucus in a baby’s lungs.”

To reach her ultimate goal, she’s accessing all the resources North Central  has to offer. Kirk is involved in research studying the effects of caffeine on short-term memory by providing the chemistry expertise needed for the project. She’s an officer in the student Pre-Health Organization on campus. And she frequently consults with Marguerite Degenhardt, the College’s pre-health professional program coordinator.

“She suggested I go to a prep class for the MCAT,” Kirk says. “I can’t imagine going through the medical school application process without her.”

Senior chemistry major Chris Allen 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 Allen, who intends to apply to pharmacy programs at the University of Illinois-Chicago and Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL.

Aaron Langer, a sophomore, has always had an interest in radiology and decided a major in radiation therapy would benefit his career opportunities. “I liked science in high school and I also like working with people,” he says. “And I plan to find time for volunteering and job shadowing.” Langer will apply to go on to Northwestern Memorial School of Nuclear Medicine for a one-year clinical experience.

Caila Byrd, a senior biochemistry major, is prepping for medical school by conducting research with Jonathan Visick, associate professor of biology. “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.”

Junior 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.”