Kerry Flannagan ’12 was hired as a laboratory technician at Michigan Medical Genetics in August 2012, and has her sights set on graduate school. She shares how Earlham has been instrumental in her career path.
EC: How did Earlham coursework prepare you for your position?
KF: The hands-on experience that I got in labs at Earlham has been invaluable for this job. My boss said that the reason I was hired was because I was the only candidate who’d previously worked with the instrumentation that we have in the lab. On top of that, I came into the position already familiar with the lab techniques and vocabulary, which made the learning curve less steep. During my senior year, I spent a semester at a giant state university to take some classes that Earlham wasn’t offering, but I never worked in a wet lab while there. At Earlham, I used tools and instruments that I never would’ve had the opportunity to work with at another school.
Earlham required high standards. My position involves test results and medical information for real people so there’s an extra level of responsibility and gravitas that comes with that. I think about Earlham’s Principles and Practices when I’m at work and I hold my decisions up to those standards. If a choice I make is in keeping with them, it’s the right decision.
EC: Who were some influential faculty and staff members?
KF: The entire chemistry and biology departments! The professors were excellent teachers and passionate about both the subjects they teach and about teaching them.
EC: What are your future career plans?
KF: I’m applying for a master of public health program in epidemiology. One of my goals in entering the public health field is to make changes to healthcare and the healthcare system that prevent illness and improve people’s lives.
EC: What makes a liberal arts education unique?
KF: A liberal arts education gives you options and enables you to explore diverse subject matter. It also promotes different ways of thinking and solving problems.
EC: What sets Earlham apart from other institutions?
KF: Community…in particular, weekday evenings and afternoons studying in the Science Library. There was always a table to join while doing homework or writing papers. It’s this sense of totally organically formed, unassuming, supportive community that drew me to Earlham, and it’ll be one of the things I remember most fondly in the future.