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Biology Alumna Profile

Megan Slaker (2011)

Megan is currently a Ph.D. student at Washington State University in the neuroscience program.

WHAT YOU DO • • • During my first semester at WSU, I looked at the prevention of relapse by diminishing drug-addiction memories. I am currently examining the molecular components of the formation of neural connections. I have decided to do my dissertation work in the first semester lab, so I will be moving to WSU Vancouver with them in the spring or early summer. As I continue on, my course load will decrease while my research time increases.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU • • • Growing up, I was always interested in how people think and what motivated specific behaviors. I never fit into any one mold and saw many people close to me make unwise choices. While at Bethany, I heard Matt Bellace speak during my junior year and started to look into neuroscience. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became. I spent a summer conducting research at the University of Iowa and became enthralled with the field. So I believe my own internal drive, questions, and curiosity have inspired me the most.

HOW YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE • • • I would love to make a difference in the world of addiction by helping people stop using addictive substances or by creating a better understanding of how rehabilitation can help. Hopefully the research that I will be conducting and the knowledge that I contribute will make the world a better place. I hope that the people I meet are inspired by my life and work, motivating them to reach for their dreams and never stop questioning the world around them.

HOW BETHANY HAS PREPARED YOU • • • Bethany prepared me to handle the step to a huge school in several ways. The first way Bethany has prepared me is, of course, academically. Bethany professors are some of the best. They are passionate about their subject areas and excited to pass on that knowledge. They entertained hundreds of questions from me and never were annoyed or frustrated. They helped my passions flourish and provided me with an excellent background for my current studies. The second way Bethany prepared me was to provide a safe environment to grow and learn. For example, I was able to be a photojournalist and explore the world through the lens of a camera. Honestly, this has helped me tremendously when using microscopes now since many of the terms and features are the same. I was also able to be the president of PAMA Mentors(a campus organization), which gave me the opportunity to explore physical and mental health issues that affect young adults. I also took statistics for the soccer teams and was a math tutor. All these activities allowed me to learn about what I enjoy and don’t enjoy and gave me skills that have proven valuable since then. Lastly, Bethany also prepared me spiritually. Bethany is a safe environment to grow as a Christian.

WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST • • • Some days I remember the people; other days I remember specific courses or lessons I learned. My favorite memories from Bethany usually revolve around eating dinner with friends and roommates. We had strange conversations that usually resulted in everyone laughing hysterically for extended periods. I remember sitting around the desk in Old Main watching Mighty Ducks with a group of people. I also remember going on walks around the nearby hospital just to chat or think. I remember Professor Kuster having us draw and label figures during gross anatomy and then having him erase all our hard work and say, “again!” I remember Dr. Woller’s rants and strange comments about life, for instance, “You can be on the right track, but the wrong train. Or you can be on the right train, but the wrong track. And sometimes you can be on the right train and track, but get hit by the wrong train.”

ADVICE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS • • • The best piece of advice I can give to current students is to not take themselves too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself and chalk everything up to a learning experience, both good and bad. This viewpoint will help get you anywhere you want to or need to go.