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Talia Sylvester

Hometown: Rogers, MN
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology

Why did you choose Iowa State University?

During my first visit to ISU, I was captivated by the sense of community that permeated campus. The pervasive atmosphere of support, combined with the evident dedication of the faculty and staff, left an indelible impression. It was clear that the institution prioritizes the success of its students, as evidenced by the multitude of resources made available. This commitment to fostering academic achievement greatly influenced my decision to choose ISU.

How did you become interested in your major?

During high school, I most enjoyed my science classes, and opting for a major in biology appealed to me due to its potential for diverse and exciting career paths. What truly impressed me about a biology major at ISU was the abundance of campus resources available, allowing us to explore various avenues within the field and fostering a holistic understanding of the subject matter.             

What are your current goals following graduation?

I am enrolled at the Medical University of South Carolina, pursing Physician Assistant school. The program is 27 months long, and I will graduate in the summer of 2025.          

Internships: I worked as a Patient Care Technician at MGMC's ACS department. I contributed to delivering care and providing support to patients before and after surgery. Working closely with a team of medical professionals, each shift presented invaluable learning experiences. This role allowed me to gain firsthand knowledge of the healthcare industry, and solidify my passion to pursue becoming a PA.             

Campus activities: I engaged in a number of extracurricular activities, including the Pre-Med Club, Be the Match, the ISU Pre-Health Conference and I worked as a tutor on campus. I found a supportive community of like-minded individuals with similar aspirations. These offered numerous leadership opportunities, enhancing my communication and leadership skills, and fostering personal and professional growth.        

Research experience: Starting in the spring of my sophomore year and continuing until graduation, I had the privilege of being involved in Dr. Sakaguchi's lab. Dr. Sakaguchi's research focuses on developing innovative strategies for brain and nerve rescue and repair, utilizing stem cells and neural progenitor cells. Being part of this dynamic environment allowed me to apply knowledge and develop a diverse set of laboratory techniques. Engaging in various projects within the lab, I initially focused on enhancing my proficiency in working with laboratory technologies and protocols. Through this experience, I not only acquired invaluable personal and professional skills but also established a foundation that will continue to shape my future endeavors.                        

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

What I loved about majoring in biology was the vast array of avenues it offered for exploration, and ISU provided numerous opportunities to explore these possibilities. The interdisciplinary nature of the biology program at ISU allowed me to experience different subfields, ranging from genetics to ecology, and from microbiology to biochemistry.

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 ….” offers a vibrant and supportive academic community that nurtures your passion for scientific exploration. The university's faculty members are not only experts in their respective fields but also dedicated mentors who are committed to your success. Opportunity for hands-on learning, collaborative projects, and experiential opportunities enables you to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, fostering a deeper understanding for the sciences.

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

At ISU, I had the privilege of receiving exceptional support from multiple professors and staff members who were always open to helping clarify questions and provide guidance for further opportunities.         

Last comments:

My best advice for new students is.... don't be afraid to fully embrace the multitude of opportunities available at ISU. Everyone is experiencing new things and learning from one another. ISU provides a great platform for personal growth and development.