Record number of BU students admitted to medical schools and other biomedical programs

July 29, 2009

Record number of BU students admitted to medical schools and other biomedical programs BRANDON, MB – For the second year in a row, a record number of Brandon University graduates have been offered admission into professional and clinical biomedical post-graduate schools for fall 2009. With eight students admitted to the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba, three admitted to out-of-province medical schools, and seven more admitted to programs in optometry, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine and ultrasound, these students are proving more than ever before that biomedical/pre-med studies at BU lead to success in gaining post-grad acceptance to the program of a student’s choice.

Harbinder Benning, Courtney Chernos, Chantalle Menard, Christopher More, Matt Morrissette, Ceri Richards, Laurel Stitt and Jeff Tompkins have all been admitted to the University of Manitoba’s (U of M) Medical School, while Stephanie Kent has been admitted to East Anglia University in the United Kingdom, and Chris Loewen and Dani McMechan have been admitted to Ross University in the Caribbean. In other biomedical disciplines, Nicole Wotton has been admitted to the Faculty of Dentistry at the U of M, Cheryl Thompson has been admitted to the University of Saskatoon’s (U of S) Veterinary Medicine program, Mallory McGregor has been admitted to the Ultrasound program at Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, Eunice Pang and Sarah Stroeder have been admitted to Pharmacy programs at the U of S and U of M, respectively, and Matt Lepage and David Simpson have been admitted to Optometry at the University of Indiana and the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, respectively.

The biomedical stream of study through the Brandon University Department of Biology offers courses and degree programs that deal with the scientific study of animals and plants, as well as fungi and other microbial life, and medical biology. The courses examine all aspects of life, from how organisms work at the cellular and molecular level, to their ecology and evolution, and cover such sub-disciplines as anatomy, physiology, cell & molecular biology, bioinformatics, genetics, ecology, parasitology, evolution, mycology, developmental biology, and immunology. These subdivisions, in turn, provide the fundamental knowledge on which the biomedical professions, such as those listed above are based, as well as for careers in wildlife biology and environmental sciences.

“It is a pleasure to have these enthusiastic and talented students at Brandon University, many of them the product of our biomedical stream,” says Anatomy and Physiology Professor Dr. Patrick Jackson (jacksonp@brandonu.ca). “The record-breaking success of 2009’s crop of students is confirmation that the biomedical (pre-med) programs at Brandon University are able to support and develop first class students such as these in the pursuit of their clinical and research careers. In addition it underscores the success that can be achieved by Brandon and Westman high school students. Full credit of course goes to the students who did the hard work largely in departments within the Faculty of Science. The biomedical [pre-med] stream in Biology has been instrumental in this success in that it both challenges and enables the best of our students to excel. Departments in the Faculty of Science generally work together to foster in students the drive needed to make their goals a reality. It is a team approach, but the stars are definitely the students.”

Dr. Jackson is quick to point out that the success of these students is greatly supported by Manitoba’s Office of Rural and Northern Health and its Administrative Director, Wayne Heide (info@ornh.mb.ca).

“He has been tireless in creating pre-professional workshops and events for students, geared to building confidence and competence in our graduates as future clinical professionals in our province.”

Please see the attached for brief profiles of some of these remarkable students. For information about Brandon University Biology degree programs and about biomedical/pre-medical programs such as the ones these students have found success in, please visit the BU web site at:
http://www2.brandonu.ca/biology/programs.asp

Please read on for brief bios on some of these students.

Courtney Chernos

Courtney Chernos is a graduate of Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School in Brandon, volunteers at the Brandon Regional Health Centre, and has been admitted to the University of Manitoba Medical School. She and says she would love to come back to Brandon to start her career.

“Brandon University benefited me in ways that I didn’t really appreciate or recognize until after I completed my degree,” says Courtney. “The small class sizes and great professors really made it easy to get help and advice and gave me the opportunity to get to know my classmates. Most people think that because of its smaller size BU can’t compete with other large institutions but I feel what I have learned in the past four years has fully prepared me for my future. One of the most important things that I have gained in my degree from BU is confidence in my own abilities. Over the last four years BU has helped me grow into a person that has a renewed confidence in who I am, and I feel like coming to Brandon University was one of the best choices I have made in my education so far and I don’t regret it for a second, the support that rural students receive at BU is well worth attending Brandon University.”

Matt LePage

Matt LePage attended Vincent Massey High School before attending Brandon University for his Bachelor of Science and has been admitted the University of Indiana’s Optometry program. When he is not studying, he is an avid golfer.

“Although BU is a small undergraduate university, it packs a big punch,” says Matt. “I feel privileged to have had learning opportunities such as being able to dissect a cadaver—something that very few undergraduate universities in Canada still offer. My time spent at BU has undoubtedly prepared me for success in the future. I am very confident that I now have the skills, knowledge and maturity to tackle the rigors of a professional program. I believe that I will now have an edge over those around me when I begin at Indiana in the fall.”

“The success that I will experience in the future is largely accredited to the staff and biomedical faculty of Brandon University,” he continues. “Their welcoming nature and knowledge made it a very comfortable learning environment. It was very easy to seek help if needed, and they would always go the extra mile for the student. I am very proud to call myself an alumnus of Brandon University.”

Chris Loewen

Chris Loewen was born in Neepawa, Manitoba and raised in a rural agricultural community where he still works as a carpenter. He went to school at the Living Hope Fellowship in Eden, Manitoba before attending BU, and has been admitted to Faculty of Medicine at Ross University in the Caribbean.

“BU gives rural students such as me the opportunity to obtain an excellent education in a “local” setting,” says Chris. “The small size of the school and the approachability of the faculty strengthen the sense of community on campus. This is definitely a school where students can cultivate relationships with staff and other students that will serve them well in any career they choose. The new biomedical program is one of BU’s strengths, and though I completed my coursework before this program was fully developed, I have watched its growth with keen interest. I hope many future students take advantage of the work it took to bring this phenomenal program to fruition.”

Mallory McGregor

Mallory McGregor grew up in Waskada, Manitoba and graduated from high school in a class of three. She will enter the Health Sciences Centre Ultrasound Training Program this fall.

“I decided to attend BU so that I could be close to home and thought that because of its small size it would be an easier transition to university life,” says Mallory. “I am very grateful for all of the extra hours Professors there were willing to contribute to my education.”

Chantalle Menard

Chantelle Menard was born and raised in Swan River, Manitoba and attended Swan Valley Regional Secondary school before coming to BU. She has been admitted to the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine for fall 2009.

“My four years at Brandon University were some of the best years of my life,” says Chantelle. “Although university can be trying and stressful, at BU I found a wonderful support system in my peers and my professors. I always felt as though my professors at BU were deeply invested in my future, and their constant encouragement never failed to amaze me. The depth and completeness of each course offered at BU ensures that the fundamentals are not only taught, but truly learned. The biomedical program in the Biology Department is an excellent resource for those who wish to enter a biomedical profession, as it guides course selection to ensure that the appropriate material is learned so that one may succeed in their post-graduate studies. The professors strive to prepare the students for life after BU, teaching above and beyond the usual classroom scope in the hopes of encouraging our interest, and challenging us to question information, rather than simply absorb it, so that we might become independent and critical thinkers. I leave this university with a confidence and pride in my education, and I believe this to be a rarity among postsecondary students.”

Christopher More

Christopher More was born and raised in Brandon and attended Neelin High School, as well as volunteering for St. John’s Ambulance. He has been admitted to the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine.

“BU has the unique advantage of being small, which gives you the opportunity to talk to your professors, who will point out your strengths and weaknesses and also help you develop strategies to overcome your shortcomings, like different types of study strategies,” says Chris. “By knowing my strengths and weaknesses in undergrad, and more importantly knowing how to overcome my weaknesses through suggestions from my professors, I know that I am more prepared for medical school than other individuals who went to bigger institutions. It also sure helps to have a network of friends with mutual interests. It was pretty easy to pick out and make friends with all the kids who wanted to go into the medical field at BU. You soon realized that all of you were studying at the library till midnight for exams. You were able to help each other study, write pesky lab reports together, quiz each other on difficult concepts, encourage one another when someone felt they would “never make it” and order pizza for a late night snack together. I think being all rural kids and having that rural attitude of helping neighbours in need definitively made us a unique group; we were simultaneously able to encourage each other while at the same time competing with each other for spots in our program of choice.”

Matt Morrissette

Matt Morrissette grew up in Brandon and rural Alberta and attended Vincent Massey High School before coming to BU to study Physics. He has been admitted to the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba.

“In my opinion, two of the biggest advantages that Brandon University had to offer were the small class sizes and excellent research opportunities,” says Matt. “Obviously, medical research is extremely important, so I think that the exposure to scientific research early in my post-secondary education will be an asset in the future. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of funding available for undergraduate students to carry out research and also by the number of professors who were willing to take on undergraduate research assistants.”

“I didn’t follow the most “traditional” path in seeking admission to medical school. Physics majors are definitely a minority amongst med students, but knowing and hearing about past B.U. graduates who majored in mathematics, physics, or computer science and are now either in medical school or practicing medicine was a big confidence boost. I never felt constrained to study a certain subject, but instead I was able to study the areas that I enjoyed.”

Ceri Richards

Ceri Richards was born and raised in Brandon and attended Neelin High School. She has been admitted to the Faculty of Medicine at University of Manitoba.

“Going to BU felt simple and I had to deal with very few hassles. I found finding reference letters very easy because all my professors knew me, and I really liked the small class sizes, instead of huge classes and only multiple choice tests,” says Ceri. “I was actually a member of the Math department. I found a Math degree a great road into medical school. I enjoyed my classes and was able to take classes in many different departments. There are no roadblocks to doing a math degree and going into medicine, I actually found myself with a lighter schedule than most of my peers. Surprisingly, math is applicable to a few specialties.”

David Simpson

David Simpson grew up in Brandon and attended Vincent Massey High School. David has been admitted to the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago.

“The professors and instructors at the university set a high standard in both classes and labs,” says David, “which has helped me feel prepared and confident heading into the next level of my education. The biomedical program at BU is strong, as evidenced by its recent successes, in large part due to both of these factors.”

Laurel Stitt

Laurel Stitt grew up in Brandon and attended Vincent Massey High School. She has been admitted the the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba.

“My experience at Brandon University was excellent,” says Laurel. “The high professor to student ratio meant that the professors actually knew their students, and it was easy to approach professors for help outside class. The professors were enthusiastic and genuinely wanted students to do well. Since BU is a smaller school, I had a lot of my classes with the same people and got to know them very well. This was so helpful because I always had a group of friends I could study with and share class notes with. We had similar academic goals and kept each other motivated. I also liked that it was very easy to get involved in the school through various clubs and organizations. From arranging seminars on various aspects of the medical school admission process to simply providing an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, the Biomedical Club was an especially helpful resource. For me, it was the great professors and fellow students I met along the way that made BU such a terrific experience. Brandon University has provided me with an excellent foundation for my future studies. I am confident that everything I learned here, both in and out of the classroom, has helped to prepare me for this next step in my education.”

Sarah Stroeder

Sarah Stroeder grew up in Gladstone, Manitoba and graduated from William Morton Collegiate Institute. She was very active in her community throughout her youth as a member of 4-H, Gladstone United Church, and the Gladstone Curling Club, among others, and plans to live and work in a rural area once she has completed her studies in the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Manitoba, where she has been admitted for fall 2009.

“It matters a lot to a student to have their professor congratulate them on a job well done and applaud their efforts to get there,” says Sarah. “And I have found that at BU, mediocrity is never acceptable. With particular respect to the Biology and Chemistry departments (my areas of study), the professors don’t allow their students to ‘just get by.’ They expect excellence from us, and as a result we expect no less from ourselves. BU grads are taught to strive for the very best and the fact that so many students are being accepted to these Biomedical programs is testament to that philosophy. Academically, I have nothing but confidence heading to the next part of my schooling. I am ready, and I know it, thanks to BU.”

Jeff Tompkins

Jeff Tompkins grew up in Brandon and attended Vincent Massey High School. He has been admitted to the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba.

“I am extremely pleased with the quality of education I received at Brandon University,” says Jeff. “What really struck me about my experience at BU was the sense of community that existed amongst the students and faculty. If a student was having difficulty in an area, there was always someone there to lend a hand. The doors to professors’ offices were always open and faculty members were willing to take time out of their busy schedules to answer questions or offer advice. This small community atmosphere is especially well suited to labs, where there are plenty of opportunities to get hands-on experience performing experiments. Personally, I greatly value the opportunity to perform basic scientific research as an undergrad as part of a summer work program at BU. This has given me the chance to learn advanced research techniques and publish papers; things that most students only do in grad school. I have little doubt that the quality of education I have received during my three years at BU is equal to or greater than what I would have received at a larger institution and look forward to showing the professors at U of M the caliber of students that Brandon produces.”

Nicole Wotton

Nicole Wotton was born and raised in Brandon and attended Vincent Massey High School before coming to Brandon University. She has been admitted to the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Manitoba.

“Having the chance to know my professors and understand what interests them about science was a great advantage,” says Nicole. “Being at BU with some of the best professors and having the tight knit groups of people to go to school with made going further with school a reality. It’s having the inspiration of seeing someone a year ahead of you get into the same field that you want to go into and actually knowing who they are. They are from this all too commonly classified ‘town’ of Brandon, Manitoba and went to the ‘little’ Brandon University… but we all got in!”