Honors Summer Snapshots: Laurel

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Honors senior Laurel Smeins is spending the summer in Ames working on campus and studying for the MCAT (and she still makes it look good):

It’s hard to believe a whole year has passed since I wrote my last “Summer Snapshot” blog post.  At this time last year, I was having the time of my life exploring Spain and Europe through the ISU on the Mediterranean Valencia program. This summer, reality, and my hurting bank account, intervened. Apparently eating copious amounts of gelato and laying on the beach all day won’t help you get into med school, so thus I bring you Summer 2017: “The One Where Laurel Studies and Works and Generally Never Leaves Ames” (Friends fans anybody?). Spoiler alert: it’s not that exciting. But if you’re still reading this, I suppose it can comfort you that not everyone is spending the summer boating at their lake home or traveling the globe like your Instagram feed might imply. Some of us are living perfectly average and slightly boring lives.

Between work and studying, my summer is pretty much revolving around getting into medical school. I work in an Exercise Biochemistry lab on campus that studies the link between exercise and immunity. My primary role is growing and maintaining cells that are then used in plaque assays to determine the strength of immune response to influenza virus. It’s a lot of trial and error (emphasis on the latter) but I get to set my own hours and lay groundwork for my Honors project, so it’s a decent gig.


When I’m not at work, I’m likely studying or working on my medical school application. I’m taking the MCAT (the Medical College Admission Test, for those of you lucky enough to not know what it is) at the beginning of August, so it’s crunch time – I literally live and breathe MCAT. I am currently working through a 7-book study set and taking an online prep class, so an embarrassing amount of my time is dedicated to preparing for this test. Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment, as I also decided it was a good idea to take Biochemistry (BBMB 404) this summer as well. The class is online, though, and relatively self paced, so I have the flexibility to work on it whenever my schedule allows. My favorite places to study (and have my daily life crises) are the Periodical Room in Parks Library on campus and Café Diem in downtown Ames.

During what free time I do have, I enjoy exploring all that Ames and the surrounding area has to offer. From art and music festivals downtown to wonderful parks and trails like Ada Hayden and nearby attractions like Ledges State Park and the High Trestle Bridge, it’s not hard to find something to do. If I want to stay close to campus, I’ll go to Tj Cups for some bubble tea or hammock on central campus with friends. While my summer may not be as glamorous as last year, I’ve genuinely enjoyed living in Ames, and hopefully after these months of hitting the books, the next episode of my life will be “The One Where Laurel Gets Into Med School.” 🙂


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