Class of 2016 Outcomes: Laura Bernitsky Follows her Dream to Dental School


It may be early in the semester, but Commencement will be here before we know it. Many High Point University seniors are preparing to commence prestigious career paths around the world at Fortune 500 companies, international service programs, public school systems, top-tier law, medical and graduate school programs, and many other esteemed organizations thanks to their journey at HPU. Here’s a glimpse of one extraordinary senior from the Class of 2016:

Name: Laura Bernitsky

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Major: Bernitsky will graduate with a B.S. in Biology on May 7.

Post-graduation plans: Bernitsky will attend dental school at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

How HPU helped you get there: “From day one I was able to meet with both Dr. Kelli Sapp and my own adviser Dr. Vernon Coffield. Regular meetings with the two of them kept me on track with classes I would need to apply to dental schools, preparing for the DAT, and eventually beginning the application process. The many courses I’ve taken in the biology department prepared me incredibly well for the DAT, and have made me comfortable with a wide range of biological sciences. Through a variety of courses (zoology, botany, microbiology, virology, global change ecology, and immunology), I have learned to think on every level from the smallest proteins to the entire globe.  I know that this ability will serve me well as I begin four challenging years of dental school.

Additionally, my time as a University Ambassador and in leadership roles on campus have helped me grow personally. When I graduated high school I was uncomfortable speaking to even a classroom of students who I had known since age 10, much less a large crowd of strangers. Learning to confidently lead prospective families around campus while answering their questions, providing them with as much information as possible, and forming relationships with each of them has helped me greatly. I have been able to translate those skills into interpersonal skills for working in an orthodontics office at home and in my interviews this past fall.

Most impactful mentor at HPU: “Dr. Kelli Sapp has had an incredible influence on me over the past four years. As a professor she has always been tough but fair, and is an incredible educator. As an adviser, she has been absolutely invaluable. Dr. Sapp has met with me every single semester at HPU and gone over my grades, my courses, my extracurricular activities and more to make sure that I was preparing for dental school appropriately. This past summer, I sent her 11 versions of my personal statement, and each time she would carefully read through it before sending back edits and improvements. With each supplemental application she did the same thing. When I was finally done with the applications and granted my first interview, she was the first to suggest a mock interview with Career and Professional Development, and to schedule one with me herself. Even now, I ask her weekly about some small detail of proceeding with my dental school enrollment, and she answers my questions patiently. Her years of experience with pre-health students have made her an incredible resource for me and many other students, and I am especially grateful for her.

Most impactful moment at HPU: “My junior year I came down with a terrible upper respiratory infection, but had an 8:00am Organic Chemistry lab that I couldn’t miss. I woke up feeling awful, and got myself out of bed, knowing that if I could make it through the lab, I could go to the health center and then get back to sleep. I went to Starbucks to get a bagel and some sick tea on my way to class. While I waited for my tea to be ready, my former boss, Joe Cristy, came over as cheerfully as always and said, “LB! How are you?! You don’t look so hot my friend.” I looked up at Joe, and said “Not so good.” Right as he replied, “You look like you could use a hug” and pulled me in, I started crying on his suit. I apologized for getting his lapel wet, and he just laughed it off and got me to do the same until I felt better. He got me smiling enough to get my bagel and make it through class. Right then I realized how much of a family HPU has become. The people that I live with, work with, study with and learn from have really made this little campus, nearly 2,000 miles away from my house, a new home. Realizing that, even though my parents are nowhere near here, I have someone who can give me a big bear hug, tease me into laughing and send me on my way in a better mood, was comforting. The same kinds of things have happened more and more each year here. The fact that we call many of our professors by nicknames, that they give us a hard time about silly things in our outside lives, and that I can wave to 15 or 20 people on a single tour, remind me everyday how lucky I am to go to this wonderful school.”

Advice for underclassmen: “1. Work hard and don’t give up. I can tell you that every student, no matter your major, will find a class that challenges you so much, that it hits the base of your confidence. But you have to keep digging and keep trying. When you have a choice of graduate schools or jobs your senior year, every second in the library will be worth it.

2. Get involved and meet people. Talk to the people in your classes, get to know your peers. More importantly, get involved in things that will help you in the long run; whether it be HOSA, SGA or an on-campus job, having references from people that have employed you and advised you is a lot better than a professor that you had once and who gave you an A. I’ve continued to meet and become friends with people every year as I get more involved around campus, and you’ll do the same if you just keep an open mind.

3. Be nice. Be genuine. Be smart.”


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