Knowing what she wanted to do before attending college allowed Abby Johnstone a chance to explore, experience and become involved at the College of Saint Benedict.
Johnstone, a biology major who graduated May 12, 2007 from CSB, has always had an overwhelming desire to work in the medical field, which made choosing a major easy. Then, her work experiences helped focus her efforts on pre-pharmacy.
"After starting college, I obtained a job as a certified pharmacy technician at a local pharmacy in St. Cloud. Through this work experience, it was obvious to me that this was what I wanted to do - I loved the work and the patient interaction that I was able to attain through the job," she said.
The biology department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University allowed Johnstone to explore and learn, deepening her passion for medicine.
"The summer between my junior and senior year, I did research with Dr. Ellen Jensen, assistant professor of biology at CSB/SJU. Through this research I was able to improve my lab technique, which was beneficial for future science classes, learn about conducting research, learn to constructively read journal literature, and present my research at conferences and meetings," Johnstone said.
The desire to attend a small private college was strong for Johnstone, who is from St. Cloud, Minn. The choice to attend CSB outweighed the competition because of its many perks of community life, small class sizes and campus activities and sports.
"I looked at several (private) schools throughout the state, but CSB/SJU had the academic reputation and campus life that I was looking for. It felt like home the minute I stepped on campus," she said.
As the process of applying to many pharmacy schools begins, Johnstone knows that the experiences that she has had over the past four years have strengthened and helped to prepare her for the future.
"Professors at CSB/SJU put students on their own level and facilitate growth as an academic learner. They are here to teach us as students as well as learn from us; it is definitely the most positive experience I have had academically," Johnstone said.
Looking back, Johnstone knows that her involvement in many activities such as fall and summer orientation leader; executive assistant for the CSB senate; being a teaching assistant for the biochemistry department; and studying abroad in London have made her successful both in and out of the classroom.
As first-year students begin to think about what they want to do with their own lives, Johnstone gives some parting advice.
"Begin any program strong; put time, effort and commitment into studying and learning right from the start. But make time for yourself. Always set at least a portion of the day, even if it a half hour, to do something that you enjoy or really want to do," Johnstone said.