Nick Hamel

What are you planning to do next year and what do you plan to be doing five years from now?

Next year I will be working as a Site Director for Breakthrough Twin Cities, a non-profit organization that seeks to prepare under-resourced students for college success and cultivate the next generation of educators. I will be running our site located in central Saint Paul, serving Saint Paul public school students and hopefully working with CSB/SJU students who are interested in careers in education! In five years, I hope to be completing a master's degree in either Urban Education Public Policy or Philosophy of Education.

Why did you choose Biology as a major and how did you go about choosing the 300-level Biology courses that you took?

As I finish my time here at CSB/SJU, I am grateful to the Biology department for expanding my awareness of just how beautiful and complex our world is. I wanted to see just how variable and radical evolutionary life is, so this became my guiding principle as I chose my upper division coursework. I didn't follow a specific, pre-professional route within Biological studies, so I was able to take upper division courses across a wide variety of the major. Whether it was Developmental Bio or Microbio, the overarching theme became appreciating just how amazing and beautiful life truly is.

How have your vocational/career goals evolved during your time at CSB/SJU?

I came to CSB/SJU thinking I would take courses along the pre-med route. However, I realized that I didn't feel excited or passionate about that career path at the end of my first year. I also began to think more seriously about alternative careers in education at that time, and decided to shift from a pre-med Biology major to a Philosophy/ Biology double major. I pursued professional development in the field of education through summer internships, and eventually discovered that a desire for knowledge in both Biology and Philosophy overlapped with my developing understanding of how the human brain comes to learn and know the world.

How have your capabilities evolved during your time at CSB/SJU and what has most contributed to that evolution?

I hope that I have grown in my critical thinking skills, my ability to ready charitably and understand an argument, my ability to write clearly, and my ability to speak publically. I think all of these skills have been fostered by studying two very different majors, with different approaches in methodology, style, and subject matter.

What was the most rewarding experience you had at CSB/SJU (Biology-related or otherwise)?

I was very lucky to spend the spring semester of my junior year in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. During those four months, I was exposed to the multitude of cultures that make up South Africa, a country with eleven national languages and a complicated yet rich history. I grew very close to a number of my classmates from CSB/SJU and made became very dear friends with South African students as well. I was pushed so much to grow and be open to new experiences and challenges each day. Overall, it was a very transformative experience. I'm eager to visit again soon and to reconnect with the people and places I grew close to while I was there.

Do you have any advice for students who are not sure what they want to do after graduation?

My only advice is to give yourself enough time for the right career path to open itself up. There are unique and exciting career paths out there, and you just don't know what you don't know as you approach graduation. I think it's valuable to use your summers to explore career or work experiences outside of CSB/SJU. On campus research can be a great experience for someone considering graduate school, but external internships help to open up an idea of what careers are possible, and give you the connections you need to get your foot in the door. If you are unsure of where to start in looking for an external internship, start asking everyone you know if they have connections to or awareness of different programs. Professors, support staff, family, friends, former high school teachers, etc., use all of your connections to try and get an idea of what is out there.