Abigail Clarke
Waverly, Nebraska
Abigail Clarke

Growth through challenges

A Northwestern track athlete, peer tutor and NEXT mentor, Abigail knew she wanted to pursue a career as a physician assistant while still in high school. She chose a major in biology-health professions and a minor in chemistry, knowing that path would prepare her well for PA studies and a future as a medical professional.

The right fit
I started looking into Northwestern after hearing about the college from a friend. I explored the website and learned about the biology department’s excellent reputation. I decided to apply to Northwestern for several reasons. I liked the idea of a small campus community for close relationships with professors and classmates, I believed that Northwestern could prepare me well for graduate school, and I wanted to grow in my faith. 

A major decision 
After going through both a hip labrum surgery and an ACL surgery, I began to look more closely into becoming a physician. This is when I knew to pick a biology-health professions major. Most of the prerequisite courses for physician assistant school and medical schools lined up well with the mandatory classes in this major.

Body of knowledge
My favorite class thus far is physiology. I enjoyed learning how the human body works and what can cause our bodies to not function normally. After learning about individual cells, proteins and viruses in biology and microbiology, we then examined the body as a whole functioning system.

Caring faculty
The professors care about your academic and personal growth. They will know your name and will want to talk with you. Northwestern’s classes challenge me, but I believe these challenges have prepared me for a rigorous graduate school program.

Hard questions
Science and religion are not separate topics, and the biology faculty will not shy away from asking hard questions about them. You will be challenged. You will be encouraged to ask questions and the professors will set aside time to discuss God in class. They want you to grow in your faith and be prepared when your faith is put into question.

Unique discovery 
At Northwestern, I took some specific research classes. I was able to discover from a soil sample a bacteriophage which I named and published to a bacteriophage database. After discovering and purifying the phage, I took genetics and during lab, we annotated the bacteriophage’s genome. This was an exciting experience.

Besides earning a great education, I also gained a community at Northwestern College. I came to NWC not knowing a single person. The small campus allowed me to quickly meet new people and form close friendships. I know my professors well and frequently study with my classmates. In the classroom not only are we encouraged by our professors, but as students, we support each other and work hard so that we all might succeed. It’s a blessing to know others and to be known and cared for while I am away from home.