Neither option appealed to Hannah, so she harnessed her determination and began forging her own path. She moved to Fort Lauderdale to attend Keiser University, where she majored in Interdisciplinary Sciences with concentrations in Psychology and Biomedical Sciences. The experience was humbling for Hannah, who found herself working two—sometimes three—jobs just to afford her classes. “I definitely struggled during my undergrad,” she says. “But it made me resilient, and I feel as though it made me a better person.”
It also taught her some valuable lessons, which she tries to share with aspiring college students whenever she has the opportunity. “Have a realistic plan for funding school,” she says. “And if you’re already attending classes, try to determine your interests, passions, and career goals early.” Most of all, she says, it’s important to know that your journey is unique. “Comparing yourself to your peers only creates heartache,” says Hannah. “Just do you and focus on that.”
Such sage advice comes from years of experience Hannah has just doing Hannah. Her undergraduate focus on Interdisciplinary Sciences ingrained in her a clear sense of her career goals. “I wanted to work in a lab that incorporated science,” she says. At first, she thought she wanted to go into genetic counseling. She applied to several graduate programs but was not matched to any. Undeterred, she resumed researching careers within her field of interest and stumbled upon histology, the study of microscopic tissue structures that seemed like a perfect fit for her. “As I conducted more research, I found that Barry University is among the only schools to offer histotechnology at the graduate level,” she says.
Learning she’d been accepted to Barry’s master’s program in Clinical Biology with a Specialization in Histotechnology felt to Hannah like confirmation of her hard work. Immediately, she connected with the program’s Assistant Director of Administrative Affairs, Henley Marcelus , who helped her understand how the program aligned with her ultimate goals. “He was great at being forthright on what to expect, what would happen, and how the program would flow,” says Hannah. Soon, she was enrolled in the courses with would further her future in histotechnology; she was also gaining valuable mentorship from faculty, including Professor Daniel Packert . “He was knowledgeable, easy to speak with, transparent, and made this experience less cumbersome,” she says. “I was excited to begin a career change and open up other doors for jobs.”
Shortly before graduating in August 2021, Hannah was offered her ideal position at Idexx Laboratories in Memphis, Tennessee. She is eager to learn and grow in her entry-level role, and has aspirations of moving into a supervisor role in the future. She’s also considering Pathology Assistant programs. When she thinks about her small-town upbringing and the world of opportunities now before her, Hannah is both proud of herself and grateful to Barry. “This is a GREAT program,” she says. She encourages future Histotechnology students to take advantage of the program’s small size and opportunities for direct mentorship, as well as peer collaborations. “Lastly,” she says, “enjoy the process! There will be highs and lows. Enjoy the moments.”