Yana Astter ?21

Yana Astter

Class Year


Current home

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Chemistry and Biology

Current Position

Medical Student at the University of Michigan Medical Scientist Training Program

Yana Astter ’21 credits Carthage for instilling in her a strong foundation for scientific thinking and research skills. Because of the knowledge she gained, she was accepted into prestigious fellowships, such as undergraduate summer research at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Minnesota, as well as the National Institutes of Health Postbaccalaureate Program.

Ms. Astter is now a medical student in the University of Michigan Medical Scientist Training Program.

“Carthage gave me a strong education, incredible research opportunities, and a strong, supportive network that made me a competitive applicant for post-baccalaureate fellowships and medical school.”

Yana Astter, 2021

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“I really enjoy the element of constantly learning. Medicine and research are rapidly changing fields with new treatments, techniques, and molecular discoveries made every day. It is incredible to see the advancements that are being made in science, and this continues to motivate me to make discoveries to improve care for patients. The potential to impact lives for generations to come is incredibly rewarding.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“Carthage gave me a strong education, incredible research opportunities, and a strong, supportive network that made me a competitive applicant for post-baccalaureate fellowships and medical school. Since leaving Carthage, I heard from many of my peers who went to other institutions, and they said they did not have the same extensive opportunities as I did in research nor varying support in their college courses. This information struck me and highlighted the value of my experiences and education.

“At Carthage, I felt my professors were passionate about teaching and supporting students and regularly encouraged me to pursue research and present at multiple regional and national conferences. Carthage faculty are passionate about their students, and it shows the breadth of experiences available here that may be uncommon at other institutions.”

How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?

“The process of research requires a lot of critical thinking. After you set a hypothesis, perform an exploratory experiment, and collect the data, more often than not the results are different from what you expect. Then, you have to think through what the data might mean, postulate additional explanations, and reference the literature for how these theories may fit in the broader scope of the project. In addition to this process, communication is key for clearly and concisely describing your work to others so they can understand your project and are able to build further projects from it. Developing these critical thinking skills, gaining insight from multiple fields, and communicating were all foundational skills I developed at Carthage through the liberal arts education, which helped me succeed in research.”

Why did you choose Carthage?

“I chose Carthage because of all of the incredible opportunities the school offers through extracurriculars and education. The liberal arts education allowed me to expand my horizons and learn new perspectives, and there were many unique experiences to develop and grow my interests, such as through research and J-Term trips abroad!”

What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?

“Because of my Carthage experience, I had a strong foundation in the sciences and grew skills necessary to be a competitive applicant for research fellowships. These programs include undergraduate summer research opportunities at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Minnesota, along with the NIH post-baccalaureate fellowship and multiple highly competitive MD-PhD programs. Through Carthage’s incredible education and opportunities in the sciences, I was able to learn many of the skills and techniques necessary for research and have a strong foundation for scientific thinking that has allowed me to thrive in each of these experiences.”

What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?

“I am endlessly grateful to many of my professors at Carthage. Professor John Kirk was my first research mentor and taught me many of the foundational skills of research, while also encouraging my participation in multiple opportunities such as presenting at regional and national scientific conferences. In addition, Professor Christine Blaine was my advisor and was incredibly welcoming and supportive of my goals in medicine and research. Beyond just questions about chemistry, I felt comfortable regularly going to either Prof. Kirk or Prof. Blaine for any problems and knew that I would receive incredible support and advice from either or both of them.

“Another professor who was exceptionally supportive of my journey to an MD-PhD program was Professor David Brownholland. Prof. Brownholland was my pre-health advisor when I was at Carthage, and he helped me navigate the times of doubt and challenges that come with being a pre-medical student, as well as supporting me after graduation during my application process. There are many more professors I could continue naming who were incredibly supportive and wonderful teachers, and I attribute any success I had to all of them and the amazing education they provided me.”

What's your favorite Carthage memory?

“Carthage shaped me through the connections and friendships I made. I met one of my best friends through my freshman year orientation group, and she has been my rock since. Also, despite moments of struggle in some classes, I now look back fondly at the connections I built with friends through those classes and how we supported each other and found laughter through tough times. Lastly, I would say being involved in extracurricular clubs allowed me to find my community and holds many memories of laughter and great company.”

Tips for current Carthage students?

“Keep an open mind and talk with people about your interests! Try new things and find out what drives you, and fearlessly seek out mentors and advice in the career path that interests you. There will be challenges, but keep working toward your goals, and don’t be afraid to try again.”

Are you a Carthage graduate who is excelling in your field?