Tristin Nyman ’13, is a naturally curious person. She loves to hypothesize, observe and draw conclusions. Before she reached her teenage years, her family had fostered more than 50 children, many of whom had either physical or mental special needs. Watching these children grow and work hard to complete daily tasks was a major factor in Tristin’s decision to study neuroscience.
“I observed the different characteristics and interactions of the children we hosted, their families, and the strangers we encountered on outings,” she said. “These experiences, among others, are why I decided I want to dedicate my life to helping others, and hopefully expanding existing knowledge about certain mental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders.”
Once she knew she wanted to study neuroscience, the next challenge was choosing a college. With the rarity of undergraduate neuroscience programs and a desire to stay in the Midwest, Tristin’s options were somewhat limited. Only two of the schools she was looking at offered an undergraduate major in neuroscience; one of them, of course, was Carthage.
“For being a small liberal arts institution, Carthage has a strong Natural Science Division, with many opportunities to expand your knowledge,” Tristin said. “There are many research opportunities and on-campus employment options that help you gain more knowledge outside of the classroom. I also loved the faculty-to-student ratio at Carthage. While in college, I wanted to be a name, not a number, and have the ability to talk with my various professors when needed; Carthage gives me that.”
Tristin’s relationships with her professors and involvement within the Neuroscience Program have opened a lot of doors for her.
“I think the greatest strength of the Neuroscience Program is its staff,” Tristin said. “The staff includes faculty as well as students working as researchers and lab assistants. The real strength of the program is its faculty. Both Dr. Dan Miller and Dr. Penny Seymoure are phenomenal teachers and mentors. I absolutely love the enthusiasm they both show toward the Neuroscience Program and their students. I simply cannot imagine my Carthage career without their enthusiasm and guidance.”
Since coming to Carthage, Tristin has had so many opportunities that if she listed them all, “they would cover pages,” she said. She has conducted neuroscience research and participated in psychological experiments. Her networking skills have been put to the test at professional conferences in Milwaukee and Chicago, where she met with representatives from graduate school programs and potential future employers. During J-Term 2012, she traveled to Senegal, where she studied African art and religion.
After Carthage, Tristin plans on attending graduate school and obtaining her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She wants to work with children who have autism spectrum disorders.
“I want to dedicate my life to helping others, and hopefully expanding existing knowledge about certain mental disabilities.”
“I intend to be a pediatric clinical psychologist or neuropsychologist.”
How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?
“This is a tough question. The professors I have had both in the Neuroscience Program and those from other courses have been wonderful. I would say it is a tie between Dr. Seymoure and Dr. Miller, but for different reasons. Dr. Seymoure shows a passion for her studies and her students. She is always willing to sit down and discuss something with you whether it relates to a course or not. I have loved every course I have taken with Dr. Seymoure and look forward to taking more. Dr. Miller has a great enthusiasm for his research and neuroscience in general. He always keeps his classes entertained, and no doubt has a vast knowledge that he is willing to share with his students. Dr. Miller and Dr. Seymoure are both fantastic professors, role models and people, and I am lucky to learn from them.”
“My favorite class thus far is definitely Research Methods in Neuroscience with Dr. Miller. When I first enrolled in the class, I was unaware of how much I would love the class. I have learned so much in just one semester of this class, all of which can be applied to my future goals. I especially loved all the hands-on experience I received while working in the lab.”
“The toughest class I have taken would be Cell and Molecular Biology. It is a required course for all biology and neuroscience majors, and was definitely the hardest class I have taken so far. The material itself is hard, but this class was also my first encounter with a Writing Intensive course and it definitely lived up to my expectations.”
Favorite moments and memories at Carthage
“My favorite moments at Carthage all relate to meeting new people and creating strong bonds with them. Whether I met someone in class for a project, through a job opportunity, or both of us being members of an organization, everyone I have met at Carthage has impacted me for life.”
Favorite spot on campus
“My favorite spot on campus has to be Straz. It is where a majority of my classes are, and most of my friends and peers are around the building for class, lab, or work at all hours of the day. I can walk down the hallway and be greeted by several students and staff. Everyone is always friendly in that building. It is a simple as that.”
Biggest surprise so far
“My biggest surprise thus far is the impression students make on their professors. Coming to college, I knew I would probably remember every professor I had because it’s not that many to memorize, and they would all impact me somehow. But I didn’t expect the professors to remember me years later from one class I had with them. If you think about how many students they must encounter each year, and how rare it is for them to remember you, then you realize how special Carthage and its faculty really are.”
Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?
“My advice for others pursuing neuroscience is to pursue it with an open mind. There are many different courses and topics covered in this program that can be challenging, but nothing is impossible. Keep your head up and don’t be afraid to ask others for help.”