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'It is easy to make connections'

08/27/2014

Susan Bloom '16 of North Adams, Mass., decided to transfer to MCLA from Emmanuel College in Boston the spring semester of her sophomore year. That change, she said, "is one of the best decisions I have made."

"MCLA is much more affordable, and when the Science Center was built, I finally made my decision to come back home," Bloom said. "MCLA offers many opportunities to numerous students."

Because she is considering a career either as a physician's assistant or a nurse practitioner, Bloom decided to major in biology, with a concentration in allied health.

Two weeks after she transferred to MCLA, she was offered a position as a teaching assistant in a general biology class, which she accepted. Other opportunities followed, including a position as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Fellow at MCLA's annual STEM Academy, held for incoming students interested in science and math majors.

Bloom also worked for MCLA's "413 STEM Ready Academy" over the summer. This program prepared community college students to enter a four-year science or math program through STEM major exploration and a residential college experience.

"I absolutely loved the STEM programs I took part in this summer. The 413 STEM Ready Academy worked with mainly non-traditional students, which I enjoyed," she said. "It was wonderful to see people who are older than me still pushing to achieve their goals. Everyone from that program said they were assured that they wanted to have a career in the STEM field."

In addition to the knowledge she is gaining as a biology major, Bloom's allied health concentration provides the science background she will need to enter most post-baccalaureate programs in allied health professions; such as physician assistant, nurse practitioner, registered nurse and nutritionist.

Bloom recommends the program to anyone who wishes to enter these careers.

"MCLA assures that you are set for the program by providing rigorous courses that prepare you for graduate school - or a future position - in a friendly work environment," she said. "My favorite part of this program is the professors I get to work with."

This academic year, Bloom will conduct research with fish embryos with biology professor Dr. Justin Golub.

Required classes for the allied health concentration include those in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, physics, chemistry and statistics. "MCLA offers many interesting upper level biology courses, such as the ornithology course I just took this past semester," Bloom said.

"The connection between MCLA students, faculty and staff is very strong, and it is easy to make connections, which is hard to do at a larger establishment," Bloom said. "I also am able to work with many of my friends at MCLA."

Bloom's home isn't far from the campus, so she commutes to school. As a transfer student and a commuter, Bloom said she feels "very included," and is "very involved" with activities on campus.

"I think that is an important aspect to MCLA," she said.

Immediately after she completes her bachelor's degree at MCLA, Bloom plans to attend either Northeastern University and enter its accelerated nurse practitioner program, or Massachusetts College Pharmacy and Health Sciences for the physician assistant program.