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b2ap3_thumbnail_Ashley-Franczyk.JPGWith a passion for clinical medicine, recent graduate Ashley Franczyk is now attending Marietta College’s Physician Assistant Program, where she will earn her Master of Science in physician assistant studies.

Franczyk began her program in June 2016 in Marietta, Ohio, where she is striving toward her ultimate goal of becoming a pediatric oncology physician assistant.

“My future goal is to not only become an excellent healthcare professional, but to impact and educate my patients to live healthy lives,” said Franczyk.

Looking back at her time at Waynesburg, Franczyk credits the Department of Biology, Environmental Science and Athletic Training, along with the challenging courses for preparing her for graduate school. Additionally, she speaks highly of the influence faculty and staff at Waynesburg have had on her.

“Dr. Hamilton was a tremendous influence on me; his human physiology course allowed me to discover my passion for medicine, the human body and the physiological responses of the body to disease,” said Franczyk. “Jane Owen was also not only an excellent mentor to me throughout my four years at Waynesburg, but also a great friend to me. Without her support, I would not be as successful as I am today.”

Waynesburg’s mission of faith, learning and serving helped guide Franczyk’s undergraduate experience. After she participated in medical study abroad trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, she came to the realization that patient care and clinical medicine was the path she wanted to take.

“Throughout my career and life, I will always practice these values and remember where they were instilled in me, which was at Waynesburg University,” said Franczyk.

Franczyk said she was challenged and that allowed her to push herself academically in ways she never experienced prior to attending Waynesburg. She noted that challenging courses made her an extremely dedicated and hard worker in her academics pursuits.

“Physician Assistant school is tremendously rigorous, and the education I received at Waynesburg has prepared me for this next chapter of my education,” said Franczyk. “I am so blessed and honored to have attended Waynesburg University and I will always remember the faith and service I have learned there and will apply it to my profession throughout my life.”

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Posted by on in Alumni

Recent biology graduate Andrya Durr knew that she wanted to pursue a career in biology from the time she was in seventh grade.

With a passion for medicine, Durr wants to dedicate her life to helping people with their health issues because of what she has experienced in her own life.

“My mother has a combination of Addison’s disease and Fibromyalgia,” she said. “My long-term goal is to find an effective, steroid-free treatment for Addison’s patients.”

Accepted into the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program at West Virginia University for the fall of 2016, she will be conducting research in four-week lab rotations that will expose her to different types of experiments, ultimately selecting a specific lab and research project for her program.

As a student at Waynesburg, Durr said she was prepared with the knowledge that she needed to further her education in biology. Durr credits the research requirement for allowing her to prepare and run her own experiments. She also recognizes her professors for helping her decide what she wanted to pursue after completing her undergraduate degree.

Dr. Chad Sethman was Durr’s mentor throughout her four years at Waynesburg and was always available to answer questions and provide assistance. Durr’s research mentor was Dr. Wayne Rossiter, whom she speaks very highly of as well.

“When I started my research project, I was preparing for medical school, but once I completed my first semester with [Dr. Rossiter], I cancelled my Medical College Admission Test, signed up for the Graduate Record Examinations and applied to the research program at West Virginia University,” said Durr.

In the research field, it is of utmost importance to work with integrity, which Durr said she learned at Waynesburg.

“My education at Waynesburg has made me more honest and humble as a person,” said Durr. “It has always been difficult for people to combine faith and science, but Waynesburg helped me to do it perfectly.”

Durr said that she has wanted to create positive change for people her entire life, and through the biomedical sciences program, she is going to have a career she is proud of, but most importantly, she will be doing work that serves others.

“Waynesburg shaped me as a person by encouraging me to explore and to never be afraid of taking chances,” said Durr. “If you always do what makes you comfortable, you’ll never see your full potential.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Lori-Uretsky.jpgLori Uretsky’s life is made up of goals. She sets a goal, works hard and achieves it nearly every time. Then, she sets a new one and begins again.

Today, her goal is to get the USA Women’s National Field Hockey Team to and through the 2016 Olympics. Keeping her team healthy during the most important competition of their lives will the ultimate reward for Uretsky as an athletic trainer.

“I think it’s important to have short-term goals and long-term ideas,” she said. “Right now, I am focused on doing whatever it is I can to keep the Women’s National Team healthy and training as we prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games.”

When she entered Waynesburg University in 1994 as a sports medicine major and a biology minor, Uretsky’s hope was to become a successful student athlete. She played softball for Waynesburg for four years, graduating with 18 school records. She was also named the President’s Athletic Conference (PAC) Freshman of the Year in 1995, All-Conference all four years, PAC Player of the Week twice and softball team captain her senior year.

Uretsky’s career goals were clear to her during the entire course of her Waynesburg education. She worked as a student athletic trainer for the school, and she knew that when she graduated she wanted to work as an athletic trainer at the NCAA Division I level – a trainer for a college or university whose name everyone knew. It was this goal she identified when one of her professors told a group of students to write a letter to themselves in five years.

“My goals throughout my time at Waynesburg never changed,” said Uretsky. “I remember speaking to [my professor] several times about how to reach that goal, how much it meant to me and if I believed it was possible. Five years after I graduated, I received my letter from [her], and upon opening it, I had achieved all that I wanted.”

Uretsky graduated from Waynesburg in 1998 and became a Board-Certified Athletic Trainer in 1999. She then landed her dream job, fulfilling her NCAA Division I goal, as an athletic trainer for several sports teams at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and worked there for 10 years.

Uretsky largely credits Waynesburg for her success both at Bucknell University and in her current position.

“Waynesburg is with me every day,” she said. “The education I had is still utilized every time I step foot into the athletic training room or onto the field hockey pitch. Waynesburg helped me learn how to return an athlete back to playing following an injury, how to discuss injuries with coaches and how important trust is with the people you work with. As a student athletic trainer and a student athlete, I learned first-hand just how important the relationship between an athletic trainer and an athlete can be.” 

Now, as the Head Athletic Trainer for the Women’s National Field Hockey Team, Uretsky ensures the care, prevention, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries and illnesses. She is responsible for covering practices and games, which includes travelling around the world with the team. She coordinates athletic trainer coverage for Junior National Field Hockey teams and liaises with the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency to ensure the team complies, and she works with the United States Olympic Committee.

“I am very fortunate to travel the globe with an amazing group of staff and athletes,” Uretsky said. “I enjoy the interaction of meeting new people and bringing fans to [field hockey] and meeting other medical professionals from the various countries we play.”

After the Olympics, Uretsky hopes to take vacation time to travel to countries she hasn’t seen, and then she plans to return to USA Field Hockey.

Today, while Uretsky can say she has met or exceeded many of the goals she set years ago, she knows the future is uncertain. She is preparing for the coming years with the attitude that she can still achieve success by taking one day at a time.

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Posted by on in Alumni

Julie Tischer, a 2013 biology alumna, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology Department at the University of Georgia.

Beginning her third year in the program, Tischer is studying the CRISPR-Cas system, an adaptive immune system in bacteria and archaea, and is fascinated by the ways tiny organisms influence the planet and public health. Specifically, Tischer is studying the function of the system and how it integrates small fragments of invading genetic elements, such as viruses, into its own genome. These fragments, according to Tischer, are then used to detect the invader if it ever returns again, recruiting proteins to chop up the foreign nucleic acid.

“Microbiology in general has so many broad impacts on the world, from industry to health care,” Tischer said. “CRISPR research, specifically, is revolutionizing science through its use as a gene editing tool. The CRISPR field is rapidly moving towards possibly one day being able to cure genetic diseases, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Studying the foundational mechanisms involved in the CRISPR-Cas immune system is allowing us to try things we never knew were possible.”

Tischer’s interest in the field dates back to her seventh grade life science teacher who inspired her to study biology in college. Years later, Tischer’s interest grew into a calling as a result of the support and encouragement of Dr. Chad Sethman, associate professor of biology at Waynesburg University.

“I was particularly inspired by Dr. Chad Sethman, from whom I took many courses, including microbiology. That was my favorite course by far, and sparked my enthusiasm to pursue the field for my graduate research,” she said.

From her microbiology course, Tischer developed an interest in becoming a part of discovering how organisms function, and how they can be useful to humans, she said. According to Tischer, “each and every one of [her] professors at Waynesburg University led [her] to where [she is] today,” but scientifically speaking, she said, her biology professors, and the personal relationships she shared with each of them, helped her to develop into a “competent research scientist.”

Tischer also credits her Waynesburg University education for granting her the opportunities necessary to be accepted into a selective graduate school program.

“Choosing Waynesburg University allowed me to have a variety of experiences I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to at a large institution,” she said. “Waynesburg University provided me with all the foundational tools necessary to have a successful graduate career in research.”

Upon graduation, Tischer plans to pursue a career in teaching — a career that she says will allow her to give back to future students.

“I have had so many influential mentors and teachers in my scientific career, and I really want to make a similar impact on developing scientists. I have such a passion for helping people get excited about science and research, and love to see that moment when something finally clicks in a student,” she said.

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Posted by on in Alumni

b2ap3_thumbnail_Seth-Polk.jpgSeth Polk, a Waynesburg University biology alumnus and a first-year student at Eastern Virginia Medical School, has been inspired by the health sciences and fields involving laboratory research his entire life. Although he deems it both a blessing and curse, as a child, Seth was constantly plagued with injury (a majority sports-related) that caused him to spend an unimaginable amount of time in hospitals.

“As a result of growing up in hospitals, the hospitals grew on me,” he said.

Polk is pursuing a master’s in biotechnology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and also plans to seek his Ph.D.  Upon completion of his education, Polk has an interest in joining the United States Navy, providing service to a country that he says “has given so much to [him].”

Polk comes by his desire to serve his country from the example set by his father, a retired United States Navy Lieutenant Commander who gave 25 years of service to his country. As a result of growing up in a “Navy family,” Polk recognizes the impact of the opportunities that potentially await him.

“The armed forces provide vast and advantageous resources for health care research,” he said.

His desire to research in the field of cell biology in relation to immunological responses can be attributed to his mother’s recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

“She gives me inspiration,” he said.

Polk undoubtedly hopes that his work will one day “uncover a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.”

Polk credits his Waynesburg University education for his preparation for graduate school and beyond.

“Waynesburg prepared [me for my future] by providing excellent practical laboratory experience while maintaining strong lecture of underlying theory,” he said.

Polk also credits unmatched professors and dedicated mentors for his research skills, his understanding of the scientific process and “the push required to mature in the laboratory sciences.”

As for his Waynesburg University experience as a whole, Polk sums it up with one word — responsibility.

"Responsibility is the word I think of when I see the Seth Polk of today versus the Seth Polk of four years ago, and I have Waynesburg to thank for that characteristic,” he said.

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