Music and biology go hand-in-hand for Reinhardt College senior Elizabeth Gibson. Gibson, who will graduate this May, will be the first Reinhardt graduate majoring in organ music, and on top of that, she will also have a minor in biology (pre-pharmacy) to her credit. Her passion for each area is what led her to become the Music Director for Tate United Methodist Church and to apply and be accepted into the Doctor of Pharmacy/Doctor of Philosophy degree program at Mercer University.
Reinhardt Prepares Students
"I was very excited when I found out that I was accepted to Mercer's doctoral program, especially being only one of three who get accepted each year," said Gibson, a resident of Tate, Ga. "I felt like all my dreams have come true! It was truly an honor to be chosen to be a part of this elite program. I want to be on the cutting edge development of medicines, and this program will give me that chance and to continue that work for the rest of my life.
"Being a music major and doing the pre-pharmacy at Reinhardt is one thing I believe has prepared me for the program. Leadership opportunities are abundant on the campus of Reinhardt College. Reinhardt prepares students for the real world and prepares them to move up in the world and be leaders of the future."
Discovering Her Future Career
Her life experiences and her time at Reinhardt helped her to discover what she did and what she didn't want to do for her future career. "While in high school, I took health occupations classes, and I had the opportunity to job shadow various occupations in the hospital. The one I enjoyed the most was pharmacy.
"I have always enjoyed science, but after working at a retail pharmacy, I decided being a Pharm.D. wasn't the career path I wanted to take. After having Biology 107 and Inorganic and Organic Chemistry at Reinhardt, I knew research was my true career passion."
Mentors Aided in Her Success
Gibson credits her Reinhardt professors and mentors for getting her prepared to take on any challenges that might be thrown her way. Dr. Dennis McIntire, interim school dean, assistant dean for music and associate professor of music, supported her goals and assisted her in preparing for her grueling music and pre-pharmacy class schedule each semester. While Andy Edwards, associate professor of science, helped her take "chemistry beyond the textbook" and apply real-life examples to chemistry concepts.
"Another wonderful mentor has been Peggy Collins, [director of career services]. She has been a great help to me and the reason my interview at Mercer went so well. Peggy met with me three or four times going over interview questions, interview techniques, even body language and hand shakes; we even did a mock interview. She made the real interview at Mercer a breeze; she helped ease the nervousness and prepared me to be successful."
What does the future hold?
Although the program at Mercer will take up much of her time the next few years, Gibson has no plans to leave her passion for music behind. "I will definitely continue to be the Music Director at Tate UMC. I will do that as long as I can. I always want music to be a part of my life and I always want to be in a church somewhere either playing piano or organ or leading the music."
In late May, Gibson will move to Atlanta to begin her research for the program, but is already looking ahead to what the future will bring. "When I complete my Pharm.D./Ph.D degree, I want to end up working at a research laboratory at either a pharmaceutical company such as Merck or Pfizer, or the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. The CDC would probably be my dream job. I want to do research to help people. That is the total driving force of all my aspirations."
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