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Joshua Spreng ’17

If his younger brother hadn’t completed his last year of high school as a foreign exchange student at Lake Forest Academy, Joshua Spreng ’17 of Switzerland likely never would have discovered Lake Forest College.

While visiting his brother in the fall of 2012, Spreng—who was searching for a liberal arts college to continue his education—toured Lake Forest College and was “quite amazed” by the campus. A few months later, he was officially enrolled.

This double major in physics and mathematics from Bern, Switzerland is a Forester you should know.

Q: What drew you to Lake Forest College?

A: When I saw the school for the first time, I was quite amazed by the campus and how I was welcomed by students and professors. I happened to go in the Johnson Science Center, where I met Professor Kash. He took me through the holography gallery and talked to me about studying here. I sat in on a class, which gave me an idea what it would be like to go to school here. I really liked that I would be able to connect with professors so easily. It just happened, by chance, that I met Professor Kash that day. Now, he’s my advisor.

Q: Have you had experiences—besides your classes—that have helped prepare you for your future career?

A: I took a biology course that was offered in conjunction with Shedd Aquarium with Lake Forest College. I went to class at the Shedd a few Saturdays, then we did a field trip in the Bahamas, where we studied iguanas. We helped catch and measure the iguanas to track them and make sure they were in good shape. That was a wonderful experience. I had an internship in Switzerland working for a software development company. I learned mainly about programming languages and how they are used to develop products. Both of those experiences showed me the variety of job opportunities that exist. 

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: I run and I listen to music. During semester breaks I love to go scuba diving. I did my certification in the lakes back home. During the semester, on Friday nights, I play soccer. We meet at 8 p.m. and whoever shows up can play. If I have time, I go out to take photos. When I do that, sometimes I can be out for hours. I’m a member of the Photography Club, this year I’m treasurer. Before our weekly meetings, we send out emails on what the topic of our photo submissions should be. When we meet, we ask questions about the photos and offer suggestions. I’m also involved with Eukaryon, both as an author and this year as the web manager. Furthermore, I am a member of the College’s Society of Physics Students (SPS). During our weekly meetings, they are hosted by Professor Mueggenburg, we talk about physics-related topics, solve GRE problems, or set up experiments for events. It is a fun time and creates a space to connect with professors and students outside of class. I also like to go to the programs and speakers on campus. That’s definitely helped me shape my opinions of issues around the world.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan to go back to Switzerland. My dream is to work at The Paul Scherrer Institute. It’s the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland. What really fascinates me is that they have applications in medicine. Instead of traditional cancer treatment—chemotherapy and radiation—they’re working on other ways, such as proton therapy, that are less harmful to surrounding tissues. I think such an experience would give me a valuable insight into the field and would prepare me for graduate school in either medical physics or biomedical engineering.

Q: Any advice for new students?

A: Explore and be open to new ideas and experiences. Take advantage of the great access to the professors by going to their office hours and by talking to them. The professors are open to asking questions and voicing concerns. Also, don’t hesitate to take a few classes in a different direction to see what different fields are about.