Name: Rebecca Ulrich
Hometown: Troutman, North Carolina
Post-graduation plans: After being accepted to eight graduate schools, Ulrich plans to attend the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois, where she will earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry.
How HPU helped you get there: “The faculty at HPU have advocated for me and pushed me to challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone. Within a few weeks of being on campus during my freshman year, faculty helped me find a research lab to join and encouraged me to get involved in the biochemistry department. I was encouraged to get involved in research early and was accepted in the Summer Research Program in the Sciences (SuRPS) program my freshman year, which opened the door for me to do a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) my sophomore year and a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded research internship through the University of Iowa’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) program my junior year. My research has helped me receive several national awards and fellowships. It has also helped me become a better scholar and critical thinker. Having a department and a research advisor who challenged me to take hard classes, get involved in research and get involved in campus life has helped me become the successful leader I am today. Additionally, Dr. Malburne-Wade, assistant professor of English and director of the Office of Fellowships and Awards, has been instrumental in helping me find fellowships and scholarships to apply to and supporting me throughout the long process of applying and waiting for results. She has done mock interviews with me and spent time walking me through the application process for eight different fellowships and scholarships. In addition, she is a source of encouragement when I am stressed and overwhelmed about my future and the applications. Elizabeth Illig in Career and Professional Development also helped me get where I am today. My sophomore year when I applied for the NSF-REU at the University of Bath in the UK, she helped me edit my CV. I walked into her office with a CV that looked sloppy and walked out with a professional looking document. As I applied for graduate schools this past year, I also had Elizabeth look over my personal statement and help me through the process.”
Most impactful mentor at HPU: “My most impactful mentor is Dr. Meghan Blackledge, assistant professor of chemistry. She has been my research advisor since my freshman year, my academic advisor since the start of sophomore year and my teacher for multiple chemistry and biochemistry classes. She has always been my biggest supporter and a constant source of encouragement. Her office is always open, and she has spent countless hours giving me advice about life, my career, my future aspirations and about how to succeed as a woman in science. Dr. Blackledge has been such a wonderful mentor and role model to me, and I am so grateful for all she has done for me. She knows when I need tough love and how to challenge me and push me to grow, but she also knows when I need someone to be kind and empathetic and lets me vent. As I have switched from pre-med to going to graduate school for a PhD, she has supported me and helped me navigate taking the GRE, the GRE subject test, applying to programs and interviewing for positions in labs. When I was invited to interview at the National Institutes of Health for a position, she spent several hours on a Sunday afternoon helping me prepare for my interviews. She consistently gives sacrificially of her time to support me in my endeavors and continues to be my greatest support here at HPU.”
Most impactful moment at HPU: “During my junior year, I started realizing that I wanted to pursue a career in research instead of medicine, but I was afraid to change the life plan that I had so meticulously thought out. I texted Dr. Blackledge about my stress, and we set up a time to talk on the phone. She spent two hours during her family beach vacation talking to me about my future and calming all my fears. She helped me process my emotions and helped me figure out that I truly wanted to pursue a career in research. She has been such a support to me throughout my entire journey at HPU, but it was especially impactful to me that she would take so much time out of her summer vacation to give me advice and support me as I figured out my next steps.”
Advice for underclassmen: “Take advantage of the resources you have at HPU. You have an entire campus full of faculty, staff, students and administrators who are here to answer questions and support you in your journey. These people will be your advocates and help you build a network to pull on for internships, job opportunities and graduate schools.”
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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. View more extraordinary seniors from the Class of 2018 here.