Beth Bennett '10
Area(s) of Study
Majors in Biology and French and Minor in Chemistry
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
What made you choose Lake Forest College?
Although I was interested in a career in the sciences, I wanted to stay involved with my other interests like music and foreign language. I had primarily been looking at big-name institutions in Illinois until a trusted and respected calculus teacher in high school mentioned he got his degree at Lake Forest College. I was shocked that I had grown up in the Chicago suburbs my entire life and hadn’t known about Lake Forest. It was then that I started really thinking about the benefits of a smaller school where I could get more individualized academic instruction.
How did a liberal arts education make a difference for you?
Even though I was science focused, I double majored in French. During my study abroad in Paris, the faculty arranged for me to work at a local veterinary clinic which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and maximized both my interests. A liberal arts education emphasizes flexibility, encourages individualization, and helped me become a well-rounded student.
What experiences outside of the classroom do you think helped prepare you for a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine school?
Aside from practicing medicine, a huge part of a veterinarian’s job is talking with people, and for that, you need to develop strong communication skills. I was very active at the college outside the classroom, not only pursuing professional internships and veterinary experience at local places like the nearby Wildlife Discovery Center at Elawa Farm and Abbott Laboratories but participating in many groups at the college like the biological honor society, the campus radio station, and sorority events. The college provides so many opportunities for connecting with others, and the skills I developed participating in these activities directly translated to how I now communicate with clients and researchers.
What do you think of the new Health Professions Program between Lake Forest College and Rosalind Franklin University?
I am thrilled with the joint-degree programs. I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian when I started undergrad and built my curriculum toward that goal. For students who are 100% in their desired career path as I was, having focused joint-degree programs is an exciting prospect. I will also add that I decided to take master’s level courses concurrently with my residency at Cornell but due to a few technicalities, I couldn’t complete my MS degree. It was a direct result of a lack of integration between the graduate college and the residency program. Having clear, established pathways for students to achieve professional degrees with Rosalind Franklin University is a huge asset to Lake Forest College’s already outstanding program for students interested in health professions.
How did your time at Lake Forest College help you prepare to apply for your current employment?
The biology department at Lake Forest College was a wonderful foundation for me as a veterinarian in research. I participated in the Richter Scholar program during my first year; studying local migrating songbirds and presented that data at the Student Symposium. This was the first of my many experiences preparing and presenting scientific data and I was thankful to have the opportunity so early on. I was also very active in the publication board for Eukaryon which is the student-published life sciences journal. That experience was unparalleled and forced me to strengthen my skills interpreting scientific publications which I now use every day.
What skills and experiences at Lake Forest College do you believe helped you be successful?
Part of the required pre-health curriculum at Lake Forest College is organic chemistry, and I was an abysmal organic chemistry student. That class forced me to re-evaluate my strengths and weaknesses in my learning style for the first time. With the support from my professor and advisors, I also proved to myself that I would survive and could still achieve my professional goals if I persevered rather than dropping the class and calling it quits. I had similar difficulties with anatomy and pharmacology during veterinary school. Success is not always linear and not always immediately realized. What’s important is to know when and how to ask for help if you are struggling. That initial experience at Lake Forest College helped me understand how to set myself up for success.
What advice would you give a high school student looking to pursue pre-health and is considering Lake Forest College?
Lake Forest College was an excellent choice when I started there in 2006 and their commitment to pre-health students grows steadily each year with the renovation of basic science laboratories and development of new programs. Three Lake Forest College graduates were in my class of 120 in veterinary school at the University of Illinois which receives close to 1000 applicants a year. One Lake Forest grad was even our veterinary class valedictorian. Lake Forest College is a solid choice for any student interested in veterinary medicine or any other pre-health major.