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Kara Rueschenberg

Kara RueschenbergHometown: Harlan, Iowa
Major: Biology
Minor: Spanish

Why did you choose Iowa State University?

Both of my parents and older brother attended Iowa State, so I was very familiar with the campus and school. My family attended a lot of Iowa State sporting events when I was growing up, so I've always felt like a Cyclone! I also had great experiences on all my visits to Iowa State and liked its location relative to my hometown.  

How did you become interested in your major?

I chose to pursue a degree in biology because of my experience in my high school biology class. I really enjoyed all the topics we learned, and that made me consider potentially pursuing a career in medicine. I became involved in a health club at my high school and got my Certified Nurse Aide certification to start gaining clinical experience. After my involvement in this club, shadowing physicians, and working as a CNA, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I knew that studying biology in college would not only be rewarding but would also prepare me well to get into medical school.                

What are your current goals following graduation?

I will be attending medical school at the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa for my Doctor of Medicine.           

Internships: Before my senior year of high school, I got my Certified Nurse Aide certification.  I worked as a CNA at a senior living community in my hometown during the summer before starting college and over summer and winter breaks during college. In this position, I assisted residents with activities of daily living and took vitals. It was great exposure to healthcare and taught me how to work on a healthcare team. During the summer before my junior year of college, I began working as a CNA for an in-home care company in my hometown. Instead of working with residents in a long-term care facility, I assist residents with activities of daily living in their own homes. I have really enjoyed this job and the close client-caregiver relationships it's allowed me to create. These relationships are one of the main reasons that I am so excited to be pursuing a career in medicine!              

Campus activities: The biggest leadership position that I have held on campus is as a peer mentor for the Biology Education Success Team (BEST) learning community. This position allowed me to build connections with students and allowed me to have a positive influence on their time here at Iowa State. I am also the Vice President for Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. In this position, I have had the opportunity to bring biology and life science students together to network, participate in career-building activities, and bond over our common love of science! I have been involved in the Biological Sciences Club for all four years that I have been at Iowa State. This club has allowed me to meet Iowa State faculty, learn about their research, and meet other life science students. The Biological Sciences Club was also how I got connected with the professor that I did undergraduate research for, so I am very grateful for all the opportunities this club has presented me! I am currently the secretary for the Biological Sciences Club, and I love being able to plan fun club activities! Finally, I am a member of the Primate Interest Club in which we discuss peer-reviewed research articles about primate-related topics. It’s a great way to practice reading research articles and learning about primates is always extremely interesting! Yes        

Research experience: I did undergraduate research for Dr. Corinna Most in the Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology Department. Dr. Most has a field site in Kenya where she studies baboons. In my research position, I transferred field data that was taken at the field site into spreadsheets. The data that we were looking at included ecological data about the Opuntia plant, an invasive species that is invading the baboon’s habitat, and female reproductive cycle data. I loved my position as an undergraduate researcher because it allowed me to be a part of a bigger research project while also allowing me to be flexible and involved in other things on campus!                          

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

All of the faculty that I've met and worked with from the department are incredibly helpful, caring, and truly want to see students succeed. I feel extremely supported by everyone in the biology department and know that someone will always be there to answer my questions or guide me in the right direction! I also love the wide variety of classes available and feel that everyone can find something they are passionate about. The biology department has provided me so many opportunities to get to know my fellow biology majors, has allowed me to further develop my leadership and communication skills, and has prepared me well for my future career as a physician.

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 ….”

There are so many great opportunities to discover what you are passionate about and countless ways to get involved! The faculty, staff, and students are all very supportive and want you to succeed!

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

I found that all of my professors throughout my four years at Iowa State have always been willing to answer my questions or explain a concept in more detail to make sure I truly learn it. I have also always felt encouraged, both by my professors and biology department staff, to fully pursue my goal of attending medical school and becoming a physician. Our pre-health advisor, Emily Olson, was extremely helpful throughout the medical school application process and answered any question I had -no matter how small of a detail it was!             

Last comments:

My best advice for new students is . . .take advantage of all the amazing resources we have at Iowa State! If you are struggling in a class, seek out tutoring or Supplemental Instruction, and never stop asking questions!