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Anna Garbe

Anna Garbe

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Major: Biology

Why did you choose Iowa State University?

I wasn’t really considering ISU at first, but I convinced to visit by a friend. Walking around campus, I was amazed at how beautiful and walkable everything was. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I could picture myself going here. Additionally, I was pumped to be able to continue with marching band and was pleasantly overwhelmed with the variety of other ways I could get involved around campus.  

How did you become interested in your major?

Since middle school, I had been interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. I chose biology mostly because I find the study of life interesting. I also liked how the course schedule is very customizable towards my interest in human medicine once taking the general lower level courses.              

What are your current goals following graduation?

I will be starting medical school at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine this August! I am leaning towards specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, but I am very open to exploring other areas.                    

Campus activities: My major involvements included marching band, basketball pep band, Tribeta biological honors society, LAS ambassadors, and the honors program.  Through both LAS ambassadors and the honors program, I was able to work with with prospective students and underclassmen to help them learn about Iowa State. I improved my ability to connect with others and find new ways to share my experiences while helping them see their unique path.  Marching band gave me an outlet outside of my specific major and a way to reach the greater Ames community. Besides being one of the most FUN activities, I learned about servant leadership and how to better work as a team within a 400+ member group.       

Research experience: I was a member of Dr. Sakaguchi’s stem cell and cellular engineering lab. The main project I worked on investigated the effects of various treatments, such as serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters and electrical stimulation, on the differentiation of neural stem cell neurospheres in 3D printed devices. Overall, I loved seeing how these super small cells respond in so many different ways, along with imaging them underneath a microscope. Research taught me tangibly how scientific advancements were made, which can give me insight into different aspects of medicine.

Study Abroad:  I spent a month in Paris, France for an immersive course on Medieval Cathedrals. I loved how this was nothing related to my major, which really widened my horizons and knowledge. Understanding and interacting with other cultures is so vital in healthcare, and being able to explore GORGEOUS churches at the same time was awesome.

Outside Campus Experience:  Outside of ISU campus, I have worked as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) at a nursing home for many years. Getting physical experience in the medical field really solidified my interest in healthcare. I cherish building long term connections with the residents and building the humility and perseverance to care for those who cannot care for themselves.                 

What are a few things you love about your major and department?

Like I mentioned before, I love the flexibility of the biology degree program. I got to take such interesting classes like human anatomy, human reproduction, and molecular/cellular basic of human disease. I also enjoyed getting to know the amazing LAS department staff as an LAS ambassador and working with them on their visit days.

How would you fill in the blank for high school students interested in your field?

“You’re going to love studying the sciences at Iowa State because ….”

...the options are endless and you will have all the support you need.

Do you have an example of how a professor or staff member has supported you at Iowa State?

Dr. Sakaguchi has been vital throughout my years at ISU, from accepting me into his lab as a first-year student with absolutely zero research experience, to volunteering to be my academic advisor. Having someone who knew me and my goals as my professor for some courses, research mentor, AND advisor was super helpful and provided awesome continuity to build a connection outside lecture.      

Last comments:

My most memorable experience was traveling with the Iowa State men’s basketball team to March Madness tournament as part of the pep band. I loved being able to travel while spreading cyclone spirit!  Through ISU, I was inspired to study abroad when that was really never something I had planned on. Being able to explore and learn for a month (instead of a semester) fit perfectly into my plan and ending up being something I am so glad I didn’t pass up.  My best advice for new students is to embrace that your path WILL be different from everyone else’s.