National University

Biology Students Establish Pre-Med Club

Quality of programs, faculty, laboratories is attracting aspiring physicians

Alumnus Jeffrey Simons (BS, Natural Science, 2011) wanted to be a doctor.

Simons, who serves in the U.S. Navy, interviewed with eight medical schools after graduating from National University. He was accepted to the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, enrolled last fall and is close to completing his first year there, earning high academic marks in the majority of his classes.

“I really enjoyed my experience at National University,” said Simons, who speaks highly of the biology laboratories here. He was able to clone bacteria and separate DNA, among other things, and believes his undergraduate education prepared him well for medical school. “If I could encourage other National University students along the same path, that would be awesome.”

According to Huda Makhluf, Ph.D., an assistant professor who teaches biology in the College of letters and Sciences’ department of mathematics and natural sciences, as the quality and rigor of biology courses at National University have increased, the program’s reputation has grown. It is attracting more students like Simons, in fact Professor Makhluf says six students in a recent course informed her of their intentions to become doctors too -- students such as biology major Justina Eten.

“In my biology class right now, there’s only one person who isn’t pre-med, pre-dental or pre-veterinarian,” says Eten, who also earned her Master of Forensic Science from National. “A lot of people say I will never get in to medical school if I go to National University. Well, when I’m told that I can’t do something it only makes me more dedicated.”

Eten has proposed that a pre-medical professions club be formed at National University. Professor Makhluf says that her department chair, Michael Maxwell, Ph.D., is very supportive of the idea. Eten has agreed to serve as president of the club, to attract prospective students to enroll and to encourage more current students to apply for medical school.

“The curricula here are very rigorous,” said Eten. “We need to get it out there that National University is a very good school. The professors are so educated. Instead of a teacher’s assistant, you’re learning directly from someone who has a PhD. I really enjoy the quality of the faculty and having direct access to them.”

Asmaa Bahjat is a biology student at National University who shares the aspirations of Simons and Etin to become a physician. She completed four years of medical school in Iraq before coming to the United States in 2010.

“The reason why I chose National University is their condensed class program because I work at a clinic,” said Bahjat. “National University made it convenient for me to work and study at the same time. I needed a place where someone could guide me on the right path to continue my studies and accomplish my dreams. The foreign evaluation center did a wonderful job of evaluating my transcripts from Medical School in Iraq, and I will graduate with a bachelor degree in Biology in February of 2014. The work that Justina is doing gives me a lot of hope."

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