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Great Starts at SNC: Amy Holzer '20
Portrait of student Amy Holzer

Great Starts: Amy Holzer '20

From time to time, we like to showcase a new SNC grad who’s entered the workplace or grad school. Success stories like these are pretty common. In fact, 95 percent of SNC's Class of 2022 alumni who responded to a survey said they were employed, in grad school or doing service work within nine months of graduating.

Hometown: Hartford, Wis.
Graduation year: 2020
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Biology, Pre-Med
Plans after graduation: Amy will attend the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health.

Congratulations on your acceptance to medical school! What helped give you an edge in the application process?

St. Norbert is a small school but with big-school opportunities. I remember walking into my first med school interview, and the person next to me had their Ph.D. from Yale and the person on the other side got their undergrad from Johns Hopkins, and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” But in talking about our experiences, I realized that I’ve gotten to do all the same things or more because there are so many opportunities here.

What sorts of things have you been involved in at St. Norbert?

I’m on the women’s golf team and I’m in the Best Buddies program, working with students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. I do research on campus in the parasitology department and I’ve gotten to present at a national conference. I was able to get some travel in through service trips, going to Nicaragua my sophomore year and helping to set up pop-up medical clinics. I also went to Zambia as part of the Zambia Project and was able to meet all the children, teachers and leaders of the organization we support. We got to get experience abroad and do some really cool work.

Which experience had the biggest impact on you?

Obviously from an academic perspective, my research was really important. Dr. Choudhury is my research mentor and he really took me under his wing. I definitely was not a student who came in knowing how to do a lot of research, and he put a lot of time into training me. I got to do individual projects so that gave me a lot of ownership and accountability. I joined his lab the spring of my freshman year. He pretty much had this box of parasite specimens and said, “Here’s probably a bunch of new species. Go at it.” So that was kind of a gift for me. We extract the DNA, amplify it, send it to a lab to get sequenced, analyze those sequences, and then we’ll do a lot of staining and mounting to look at its physical characteristics. One of my favorite parts of the lab is you have such ownership of what you’re doing, and from start to finish you learn so many different techniques – it’s not like you’re doing the same thing over and over.

What else about your experience at SNC stands out to you?

I think the faculty-student relationships here are really, really special. I really can’t imagine that happening at a lot of other schools, especially in the sciences where we have labs. We’re not taught by teaching assistants, so we’re kind of spending twice as many hours a week with some of our professors. If you go to the science building at like 10 o’clock at night, you’ll find a lot of them still running around, working on their own research, helping students, and just always having an open-door policy with office hours. I’ve always felt so supported and have never been afraid to ask questions and go to them for help, regardless of what exactly the problem was related to, and I think that’s made my experience kind of seamless and easier than it might have been somewhere else.

I’ve always been treated like I personally matter to people; I’ve never felt invisible or lost in the shuffle. People want to know more about you: Your professors ask about your sports teams, and your coaches ask about your classes, and then your club faculty members ask you about a different club you’re in. Everybody recognizes you for more than the facet you are in that setting with them.