interior static banner

King University News :: Biology and Neuroscience Students Consider Career Options

Biology and Neuroscience students at King University recently participated in two graduate and professional events at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Center in Molecular Toxicology Center for Structural Biology.

On Oct. 16, 14 students travelled to ETSU for the Health Professions Recruitment Fair. Health professionals from across the region were on hand to present and network with students and advisors. Representatives were present from areas of allied health, allopathic medicine, chiropractic medicine, clinical and rehabilitative health sciences, dentistry, nursing, optometry, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, and more.

“The Health Professions Recruitment Fair was a great opportunity for our students to meet with representatives from various professional schools all in one location,” said Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis, associate professor of Biology for King. “Additionally, a panel discussion following the fair provided our students with significant time to talk to actual admission’s committee members from multiple schools. These professionals provided real-time information about what to put in a personal statement, or more importantly, what cliché phrases to completely avoid. This information is invaluable given the fierce competition to get into medical, pharmacy, vet, dental, chiropractic, and other clinical programs.”

Students reported how helpful the experience was in providing concrete information about what these professional schools consider to be successful applications and applicants.

King senior Tom Hooker will graduate in Dec. 2014 with his degree in Biology. He plans to attend chiropractic school upon graduation. “I found [the Health Professions Recruitment Fair] very helpful. Prior to attending this event I was unsure as to what I wanted to do after King. After talking with many representatives from different schools and programs, I know chiropractic is the route I want to take.”

“What I found most interesting was the Kaplan program,” said Tamecia Jones, senior Biology major. “After graduation, I plan on taking additional classes required for dental school while studying and applying for dental schools in the surrounding area. I’ll be taking the Dental Admission Test soon. This [event] gave me great insight on other things I can do as well.”

During the weekend of Oct. 25, six students and recent alumni travelled to Nashville to participate in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Center in Molecular Toxicology Center for Structural Biology open house. All six are interested in pursuing PhDs in areas ranging from toxicology or neuroscience, to cancer biology or molecular modeling.

Senior Neuroscience major Rachel Donaldson commented that this trip to Vanderbilt confirmed lab research as her career path. “It was so exciting! I could tell when [the program] started that this is exactly what I love and want to do. After I graduate from King in May 2014, I plan to attend graduate school at Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, or Emory through a National Institutes of Health bridge program.”

Fitsanakis commented, “It was extremely important for the students to attend the Vanderbilt Open House. For most of them, it was the first time they saw so many other undergraduates who shared their passion for science and scientific research. Presentations by Vanderbilt faculty members and graduate students provided the students with a better understanding of the large variety of topics being studied, and what state-of-the-art technology exists at Tier I research institutions. By talking to graduate students, they also learned that their goal of earning a PhD is much more accessible than they originally thought.”

During the open house, students were able to learn about specific research taking place at Vanderbilt, tour some of the facilities, and talk to current graduate students. Cost for part of the trip was off-set by the Department of Biology and the King Club for Neuroscience.

“The interaction with the graduate students was extremely helpful because they explained how to excel at the graduate level, both in the classroom and in the laboratory,” said senior Neuroscience major Royce Nichols. “After graduating [from King], I plan to go to graduate school at either George Mason or Vanderbilt. I’m interested in George Mason’s master’s and PhD programs in Biodefense Studies or the PhD in Microbial and Pathogenesis program under the Microbiology and Immunology Department at Vanderbilt.”

Sarah Orfield, senior Neuroscience major, said, “This [event] showed the vast possibilities a science major has.”

For information on King University’s Neuroscience or Biology programs, contact Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis at 423.652.6322 or or visit or


King University is a Presbyterian, master's-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.