Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Majors: biology and writing with minor in chemistry ‘98
Occupation: veterinarian, assistant professor of small animal internal medicine
Employer: University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine
What I do: Teach medicine veterinary students, interns and residents. Perform basic science research on alternatives to antibiotic therapy and clinical research on antibiotic resistance and stewardship.
Growing up in Philadelphia, how did you find Northland College?
I had intended to go to a state university, where my brother attended, and to share a room with my best friend. That was the plan. Until the evening that I wandered through an enormous college fair in Philadelphia and came upon a smiling woman with a handful of brochures featuring a red canoe on a river shaded by mature pines. I wanted to be in that boat. I had visited my intended state university and walked into a large auditorium; my host explained that this was a typical classroom. At Northland though, according to the brochure, I could expect small class sizes taught by excellent professors. I applied, and the next fall found myself as far north and west as I had ever been.
Did the red canoe deliver?
In addition to living for four years in the most beautiful setting imaginable—the north woods on the shores of Lake Superior—Northland provided me with an exceptional education and lifelong friendships. Small class sizes allowed for close relationships with peers and faculty. I doubt that any professor at a large state school would have known me well enough to predict my future career years before I considered it myself. But Professor Milt Lorber said to me, after my class presentation in biochemistry, “You should consider veterinary school.” Which I did, after graduation. Now an assistant professor of veterinary medicine, I try to emulate the compassion and inspiration of my Northland professors. They knew that teaching is so much more than imparting facts.
What were some defining moments for you at Northland?
Doc Dick Verch’s field ornithology class gave me the background needed to work for two summers as a field research assistant in northern Manitoba, studying the effect of snow goose overpopulation on nesting birds. It also made me an amateur birder, which is a gift that reconnects me to the natural world around me daily.
My roommate Debbie (Brooks) Wolfe ’98 and I appreciated Professor Lee Merrill’s wry humor and honest critiques in our writing classes. Doc Richard Neumann’s love of ecology and mammalogy was infectious, and he was always available to impart sage advice. He wisely paired Lindsey Long ’99 and I together as roommates on our month-long trip to Kenya; we became fast friends and remain so.
How does your Northland education still resonate?
Many of us were drawn to Northland because of its setting. In the 90s we affectionately referred to the college as “Camp Northland.” After a recent canoe trip with another family, my friend asked, “Did you grow up camping and canoeing?” And while I did have some exposure to these activities as a child, my response was, “I learned to really be outdoors at Northland College.” It was there I learned to sea kayak, pitch a tent, make a fire with a bow drill, orienteer, and, most importantly, be still and observe.
Everyday life speeds by. My husband and I have moved across the country and back, have two kids, two dogs, and a cat. Full-time work, Girl Scouts, Sunday School, and family events make us constantly busy. Northland taught me that reconnecting with the natural world keeps me grounded, that great teachers can be compasses, and those true friends are really family.