Name: Gina Botsko
Hometown: Hendersonville, Tennessee
Post-graduation plans: Botsko plans to attend graduate school at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine in Johnson City, Tennessee.
How HPU helped you get there: “In my freshman year alone, HPU allowed me to work in the microbiology lab as a lab assistant, conduct genetic research, become president of Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, represent my sorority pledge class as academic chair and work as a student ambassador at HPU. The following three years only continued to show me opportunities that I would take advantage of. One of the most amazing things about HPU is the many different opportunities that are present on this campus. Not to mention all the mentors encouraging you to grow as a leader starting your freshman year. For example, the staff in Career & Professional Development helped me develop different versions of my resume, such as the resume for my science internships and a second resume for working non-medical jobs, such as the High Point Furniture Market.”
Most impactful mentor at HPU: “I can give you countless examples of various mentors at HPU who guided me on my path to success. After my first college exam in freshman biology taught by Dr. Gerald Smith, who we called Dr. G, he pulled me aside and asked me what I was passionate about. From this conversation, he understood I was excited about multiple aspects of biology, and he thought I would serve well as a lab assistant. He introduced me to the Biology Lab Director, Whitney, who soon hired me. This position allowed me to prepare various upperclassman labs, such as microbiology, ecology and anatomy while learning about the classes as a Freshman. Little did I know that this position would open the door for many more opportunities. For example, one day while I was working in the anatomy lab, Whitney announced that she nominated me to be a university ambassador. I completed the application and underwent two interviews before I was hired for the position. On another occasion working in the lab, Dr. Patrick Vigueria, assistant professor of biology, approached me and asked if I was interested in research. ‘Of course,’ I said, ‘but aren’t those opportunities reserved for upperclassmen? I’m only a freshman.’ Dr. Vigueria then told me that professors are always searching for first year students for research because they can train them and work with them for all four years. He sat with me for an hour discussing my interests and thought I would be a good fit for genetic research. After introducing me to the genetics professor and learning more about her project, I was able to conduct evolutionary-genetic research as a second-semester freshman. This research got published the following summer. All of these events took place during my first semester at HPU. In each of these cases, I had an HPU mentor by my side looking out for me. These opportunities continued throughout the next three years with various professors. To each of my mentors, thank you for helping me get to where I am today!”
Most impactful moment at HPU: “My most impactful moment at HPU actually spanned the course of my junior year. Between my extracurricular activities, three different jobs, a rigorous academic course load and preparing for the MCAT, I was overwhelmed to say the least. It was the year I truly learned the importance of support and how much HPU professors genuinely care about their students. During this time, my professors were more than understanding. Whether it was extending a paper deadline for me or simply meeting with me outside of their office hours to discuss life, I had people in my corner cheering me on and pushing me forward. That summer, I took the MCAT and applied to medical school, which was a draining task. Luckily, my advisor was with me every step of the way via text, email and video chats. Before I had interviews, I underwent mock interviews with my advisor and got feedback that made me feel confident going forward. HPU taught me throughout these tough days that the most important thing to have is support. I am incredibly grateful for the friendships I have developed with my professors and will miss them tremendously once I graduate!”
Advice for underclassmen: “My advice to underclassmen is the same advice that my dad gave me on move-in day my freshman year: Be a sponge and soak up everything this university has to offer. If you do that, you will grow as a person, as a professional and as a leader.”
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Commencement is just around the corner, and 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. View more extraordinary seniors from the Class of 2018 here.