Hey everyone! This is my first blog post for the honors blog, so I would like to introduce myself. I’m Sarah van Tol, a third year Animal Ecology and Biology major from the world’s greatest city, St. Louis.
Of course being a double major was not enough for this honors student, and I decided, this semester, that I want to add two majors and still graduate next May. Currently my post-undergraduate plans are to either attend public health school, to study infectious diseases or global health, or attend veterinary school. What minors fit better with my future academic goals than Microbiology and Emerging Global Diseases? Of course adding two minors with two semesters remaining seems insane, which it is to say the least, all the courses fit perfectly without having to add extra time. To most people my last two semesters sound like a death sentence, but I am excited and looking forward to a challenge to motivate me through the inevitable senioritis. The only class that makes me squirm is second semester physics… not the virology, epidemiology, or medical protozoology.
As I was playing with my schedule options on ISU’s Schedule Planner, I thought how much my plans have changed since I began my college adventure. As a freshman, I entered as a Biochemistry major insistent that the only type of veterinary medicine I would never be interested in was public health. Within the first month of classes, I discovered that I was terrible at calculus and that biochem majors had to take all three semesters of calculus… so it was time to find a new major. Thankfully we were working on our four-year plans in our intro honors seminar, and I found that Animal Ecology’s degree requirements fit well with my interests. At the end of my first year, I had the privilege to travel to South Africa for a volunteer research project. My world perspective changed dramatically, along with my career interests, when my group visited Kruger National Park. After hearing about the major problems with bovine tuberculosis, I became very interested in the disease interfaces among people, livestock, and wildlife. When I returned to Iowa State the following fall, I became motivated to investigate other areas of interest and added Biology as a secondary major. Last summer, I interned with Palm Beach Zoo in their Conservation and Research department. In addition to completing my honors capstone project and meeting various major requirements, I began researching community conservation efforts and realized how important it is to link human, environmental, and animal health.
Beginning to think of the world of health and medicine from the One Health perspective changed my academic interests for the better and has shaped my career goals and life philosophy. I enjoy my classes more than should be allowed. With that in mind, I encourage you to think about this while you are arranging your upcoming semester. Are you excited for your future? Do what you love and don’t be afraid to change your plans. Inviting change might be what you need!