Samantha Olson
Sioux Center, Iowa
Samantha Olson

Aspiring engineer

A third-generation Red Raider, Samantha was encouraged by her dad to look into biomedical engineering, and when she did, she was hooked. She's majoring in biology-health professions and is enrolled in Northwestern's 3+2 dual-degree program for engineering. During her three years at NWC, Samantha belonged to Northwestern’s golf team, tutored both math and science students in the Peer Learning Center, served as an admissions ambassador, and kept the beat for the Red Raider Athletic Band with her snare-drum playing skills. She's now at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU), where she's earning a bachelor's degree in engineering. She received the university's Outstanding Junior Award for Academic Excellence from the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Following family footsteps
Attending Northwestern is a great legacy in my family, as my dad, his siblings and his parents are all Raiders. While this played a key role in my decision to attend, I also chose Northwestern because of the high academic standards and commitment to integrating faith with learning. Receiving a fantastic education while growing in my faith and love for God at the same time means so much to me.

Adding it up
Math and science have always been my favorite subjects in school, but for the longest time, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. My dad, a chemical engineer, encouraged me to learn about biomedical engineering. I found that biomedical engineering is a great combination of both math and science, and I discovered how much I’ll be able to help people through a career in this field.

Inspirational profs
The Northwestern faculty I’ve been privileged to learn from and get to know have blessed me greatly. First, they love their fields of study! Dr. [Zachary] Varpness is obsessed with organic chemistry, and Dr. [Emily] Grace truly thinks physics is the coolest thing ever. That makes learning from them very desirable. But Northwestern professors aren’t here just to teach biology, calculus, physics or organic chemistry—they’re here to build relationships with students and walk alongside them in their faith. I probably learned as much or more about who God is and how much he loves me from my professors as I have learned about the subject matter. That is something I truly cherish. My professors invested greatly in me, and I can’t thank them enough.

Great Creator
Studying math and science has impacted my faith immensely. It’s taught me about who God is. God knows fully the things we study and continually struggle to comprehend. He knows the math, the physics, the biology and the organic chemistry. He knows it all because he created it all!

Grateful for growing
I grew as a person in every way at Northwestern—academically, emotionally and spiritually. I learned so much about myself, others and the world around me. Northwestern is a beautiful, fun and safe place that truly changes students’ lives if they let it.

Engineering research
At Washington University, undergraduates work in every single lab on campus. There are multitude opportunities to get research experience, and many of the professors at WashU are tops in their field. I really am learning from the best!

Industry opportunities
WashU alumni work everywhere, and there many opportunities to connect with them. No matter your specific interests, there will be someone in the WashU network you can talk to. WashU also has connections with lots of businesses, so there are opportunities to meet with recruiters from the top companies in the nation.

Faith in practice
If you want to test yourself and your faith, WashU is the place to be. You’ll come into contact with many different people with different experiences and view. WashU doesn’t shy away from tough conversations. A webinar series on diversity and inclusion has been really impactful. While Northwestern will give you the opportunity to think and talk about your faith, WashU provides the opportunity to put into practice the things you believe. The first night I hung out with classmates at WashU, I gave someone a ride home. I had Christian music playing in my car, and they asked about it—which gave me the opportunity to share about my faith. That hadn’t happened to me before, and I will never forget it.