Carlos Becerra-Meneses '10
Area(s) of Study
Major in Biology and Minors in Spanish and Education
Highland Park, Il
ECMO Specialist Nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Psychiatric Nurse at Amita Health
Psychiatric Mental Health DNP Studies
What made you choose Lake Forest College?
I wanted a college that offered small class sizes. At Lake Forest College, you are a valuable student that has something to contribute, opinions and discussions are always welcomed. The professors know your name and genuinely care for your progress and success. Diversity was a decisive factor for me. I wanted to study in a place where I would be able to interact with students from various cultures and different backgrounds, people from around the world, and the country. Some of my closest friends were international students at Lake Forest College.
The campus location is beautiful, nestled within the woodlands, surrounded by tranquil suburban houses, and close to a beautiful lake.
How did a liberal arts education make a difference for you?
Education at Lake Forest College is of top quality. They have a strong educational curriculum that prepares you for various career paths. There are always ways to get involved in research, explore various majors and minors, and let creativity loose. A liberal arts education prepared me for the real world and its variety. It prepared me over and beyond academically to be successful in my current career.
What experiences outside of the classroom do you think helped prepare you for your graduate program?
Doing neuroscience research prepared me for a career in health. It sparked my interest in the brain and its various disorders. I was empowered with the tools to think critically and make the connection between doing lab research and how that could impact a disease that devastates millions. I decided to pursue the field of nursing to make an impact on individual health. I completed my Master’s of Science in Nursing from DePaul University and Lake Forest College fully prepared me to take graduate courses and be successful. Currently, I am pursuing doctoral studies to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. I look back at Lake Forest College, and I know their strong science curriculum and research made me a candidate distinguishable from others.
How did your time at Lake Forest help you prepare to apply for your current professional position?
Currently, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, I work in the cardiac transplant unit as an ECMO specialist nurse and the position requires someone who can think critically, question, and collaborate well with others. Lake Forest College provided me with the tools to think critically through their strong curriculum that encourages individuality and reinforces students to question and form personal opinions. It allowed me to become a leader and gain in-depth knowledge in my desire field. These traits, which I nurtured in college, helped me be successful in a position that required working in a multidisciplinary team affecting patient care.
What do you think of the new Health Professions Program between Lake Forest College and Rosalind Franklin University?
During my time at Lake Forest College, this alliance between Lake Forest College and Rosalind Franklin University was in the works. If I had access to it then, I would have absolutely taken advantage of such a great opportunity to pursue a career in nursing. This is an amazing opportunity for pre-health students to gain exposure to diverse health care fields. I am happy to learn that many students have been able to pursue careers in nursing, health, and medicine through the Health Professions Programs. I am sure the program thoroughly prepares students to think critically, apply the science learned, and work effectively as part of a team. Multiple former Lake Former College classmates have received their medical degree from Rosalind Franklin and have become very successful. We need more doctors and nurses in our current health environment and I am sure amazing talent will come out of this program.
What skills and experiences at Lake Forest College do you believe will help you be successful?
Critical thinking tops my list. As biology majors, we were trained to read scientific literature, formulate experiments, communicate, and challenge the status quo. I know those skills have served me well in nursing as I care for patients through their illness at their most vulnerable state. I also learned at Lake Forest College to ask questions. No question is dumb, and questions facilitate a dialogue between teams and colleges. It is a learning experience. Even though I am proficient in my current role, I do not shy away from asking questions.
What advice would you give a high school student looking to pursue pre-health and is considering Lake Forest College?
My advice is to explore as much as you can to broaden your horizons. Lake Forest College provides many resources and opportunities to be successful in the health profession. Lake Forest College provides the foundation necessary to develop the skills require to be successful in a graduate program. I suggest early volunteering and shadowing would give you a picture of what your desire career looks like and would allow you to plan for it. Nurture relationships with faculty, they are on your side and will support you on whatever you are planning on pursuing. And lastly, have fun with the process, do not be miserable, and be kind to yourself.