Featured Image: Breanna Wimbush and Moeno Sawai
pose before a shared meal. Breanna Wimbush | Courtesy
Virginia Wesleyan University has been my home for the last four years, and I cannot imagine a better school than this one to call home. VWU has provided me with so many opportunities and experiences that have not only been enlightening and fun, but also have made me a more well-rounded person.
As a STEM major, I did not think that I would have the time to take classes outside the major requirements that interest me, but in addition to my Biology major and Chemistry minor, I have been able to obtain a Religious Studies minor as well.
For this reason and many others, I am grateful for the liberal arts aspect of VWU as it has encouraged me to explore classes outside of the science genre. I also took interesting classes such as digital art, and during my last year, I participated in National Model United Nations, something that may not have been possible at a non-liberal arts school.
Not only has VWU provided me with incredible experiences, but being a member of the Batten Honors College has as well. As a member of the BHC, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel and Palestine in January 2020, an experience that I will never forget.
The BHC study abroad requirement was a bit daunting at first, as I had never been out of the country, but I quickly realized how great of an opportunity it was. I was surrounded by incredible faculty and fellow students who were there when I needed them.
In addition, leaving the country and being away from home prepared me for more experiences down the line, despite my trip only lasting 12 days.
Another part of the BHC experience is the acquisition of two Immersive Education Experiences (IEE). One of my IEEs was a 10-week research internship at Cornell University called Microbial Friends and Foes REU.
While ten weeks is a lot longer than 12 days, I believe my time in Israel and Palestine and being brought out of my comfort zone on that trip allowed me to adjust to life in Ithaca much better than I would have without the experience. The IEEs are also another part I grew to appreciate during my time in the honors college.
At first, it was a bit nerve wracking trying to figure out how I would manage to get two. However, there was so much support from all the faculty and staff throughout Virginia Wesleyan. The assistance was not limited to just BHC staff.
It was through professors that I heard of Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs and was encouraged to apply. All of my professors were eager to write me letters of recommendations and if I needed any more assistance, I knew I could reach out to them.
I believe the small class sizes at VWU made this process easier and helped me obtain more personal recommendations that allowed me to get accepted into the REU mentioned above, Microbial Friends and Foes at Cornell University, which made up my first IEE.
My second IEE was research on campus with Dr. Johnson. On campus research at VWU is a great experience. As a researcher, students get a lot of hands-on work and skills that can be added to their resume. Because of Dr. Johnson’s research and the REU, I have acquired skills that will make me a competitive applicant for M.D. and Ph.D. programs. I have gotten a job at Duke University as a lab technician for my gap year.
Another aspect of the BHC is the living and learning community every student experiences when living in the Honors Village. It was in this community that I made many lifelong friends who I plan to stay in touch with for many years to come.
I think that the living and learning community is one of the coolest aspects of the BHC as each honors student gets to be surrounded by like-minded individuals, and I know I can ask just about anyone for help, and they would not hesitate to assist me. Living in the Honors village for my first two years, I believe has had the biggest impact on me.
When I arrived at VWU, I was extremely introverted and very shy, but with such an amazing group of people around me, I was able to come out of my shell and really grow as a person. Now, I am a confident person who cannot wait to take all the lessons and experiences VWU and the BHC has provided me with out into the world after graduation.
By Breanna Wimbush