Hiram College

This week, as we prepare for the 171st Commencement ceremony honoring the Class of 2021, we asked a few of our graduating seniors to reflect on their time on the Hill. Each day this week, we will hear from a member of the Class of 2021 as they share the relationships they built, the lessons learned, and where they’re headed next.

Hiram College is less than an hour’s drive from Stephanie Cipa’s hometown of Tallmadge, Ohio. After hearing about the College from a family friend, Stephanie learned that Hiram could prepare her for a career as a veterinarian and offer her opportunities for scientific research. As a student in the School of Science and Technology, Stephanie majored in neuroscience with a pre-veterinary medicine concentration while also minoring in both chemistry and biology.

How did you pick neuroscience as your major?

I chose neuroscience after taking Intro to Neuroscience my freshman year from Professor Tom Koehnle (associate professor of biology and coordinator of the neuroscience major). It started as just an elective, but I quickly fell in love with the subject and how fascinating both human and animal brains are. After taking the class, I was offered a research position with Professor Koehnle studying squirrel behavior, which further solidified my interest in and passion for the field. Declaring a neuroscience major at that point just made the most sense for me.

Since he helped spark your initial interest in neuroscience, did you continue to take courses with Professor Koehnle?

I took as many classes with him as I could because I loved his teaching style, and he just generally taught really interesting classes. He was also my advisor, and I was one of his research assistants for three years. I really appreciated how he trusted me and gave me the space to figure out my own path to vet school as my advisor. During research, he was always patient with me when it came to working through issues with procedures and analyzing data. He was also just a professor I could vent my frustrations and stresses to, and he took time to listen to me. I’m really going to miss him after I graduate.

What other science courses did you find particularly helpful?

My favorite class was Microbiology, taught by Professor Brad Goodner (professor of biology, director of the Center for Scientific Engagement, and director of the School of Health and Medical Humanities). As much as I loved the lecture portion, particularly the parts on different diseases, the lab was really my favorite part. We got to do this really cool project where we took unknown bacteria and had to figure out how to grow them in cultures and identify them.

Not only did we get to play detective with our bacteria strains, but we were also able to learn and practice important lab skills that I will continue to use when I start at the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University this fall.

When you’re not in the lab, where do you like to relax on campus?

My favorite place is the benches between Colton and Gerstacker. When the weather is nice, I love to hang out there between classes or do homework. They have a great view of the garden, and people are always passing by to say hi to. It’s a nice spot to take a break and relax.