After camping out on assignment along a tropical shoreline, a group of scientists and natural sciences graduate students awake to movement nearby in the sand. Under their watchful care are several nesting leatherback sea turtles, each one larger than a man. Over the course of about 15 days, while the beach is blocked off to protect them, several of the endangered reptiles are tagged with trackers before they and their young scuttle away into the ocean.
This is one of several adventures that Connor Barich (Biology ’16) experienced while pursuing his dual degree at St. George’s University in Grenada, located in the Caribbean. Connor is about to finish graduate school, earning his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health degrees. During his time studying abroad, he has gained experience treating a variety of animals, including dogs, cats, goats, cows, horses, sheep, and even iguanas. “Veterinary medicine is a puzzle, and I look forward to getting to put a different one together each day,” he said. “Obviously, my patients can’t talk, so they aren’t always as much help as we would like. I have always loved solving problems though, so I find that I thrive in this type of field.”
“The challenging biology program [at Pensacola Christian College] did more than prepare me for the intense science and medical courses that I would have to dive right into in my first semester of veterinary school,” Connor said, crediting English and speech classes with solidifying skills needed for the papers and presentations of his master’s courses. “Both classes gave me a foundation in apologetics that I used throughout my time in school in many great discussions with my colleagues. Being in my last year and looking back, I have no doubt that this was the plan God had for me.”
As for Grace Goode (Pre-Medicine ’16), PCC allowed her to strengthen her foundations of faith and understanding of science. Just recently, she spent two years as a clinical research assistant and is now pursuing her Medical Doctor and Master of Public Health (M.D./M.P.H.) dual degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “I was able to score well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and be accepted into medical school,” she said. “My peers from other colleges didn’t take Anatomy and Physiology (BY 311) or another course and had to learn this completely on their own. Every single subject that was on the MCAT was covered by my courses, which made studying for the exam so much easier.”
Both the biology and pre-medicine programs equip students with the tools necessary for a variety of careers and graduate degrees, including those in biological sciences and clinical disciplines. The biology program exposes students to a wide range of studies from ecology and conservation to zoology and botany, while the pre-medicine program focuses on scientific study for students to develop a solid foundation in the basic sciences needed to pursue medical graduate degrees.
“Students are uniquely prepared to understand science and medicine from a biblical perspective, including the relevance of a Christian worldview in scientific research and clinical practice,” said Dr. Elijah Spencer (Biology ’06), natural sciences faculty member. “We utilize vanguard technology, such as virtual anatomy dissection software BodyViz, to ensure that students are adequately prepared for the integration of technology in their careers.”
After PCC, Shai Araki (Biology ’15) earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) and now works as an associate dentist at The Smiling Place in Hawaii, where she currently manages the Ewa Beach branch. Shai has appreciated the flexibility of her practice, allowing her to serve on 13 medical missions in countries including Myanmar, the Philippines, and Mexico. “Dentistry can be done anywhere. I am able to work with several other dentists to provide free dental treatment to people who need it most,” she said. “Before these patients see a dentist, the gospel is shared with them. Some countries are closed to Christians, but dentists are able to go.”
One moment from Shai’s Anatomy and Physiology class at PCC left an impression on her. “The professor asked us to take out a 3×5 card and a pencil. I thought ‘Oh no, a pop quiz,’” she said. “He asked us to write some prayer requests down so he could pray for us. No professor outside of PCC has done that for me.”
“We as faculty are passionate about seeing each of our students succeed in the field that God has called them to,” said Dr. Spencer. “With our broad range of experience, we are able to mentor students to not just meet standards, but to excel in their preparation for scientific or clinical careers by utilizing their unique God-given strengths.”