When Dreams Materialize
Megan Hedgelon perched herself on a stool at the first station of Research Lab 108 for possibly the last time during her tenure as a student at Marywood. Like most soon-to-be graduates on the threshold of the future, Hedgelon is reflective of the past 5 years of her studies and all she was able to accomplish within that time.
In 2017, Hedgelon debuted as a first-year student from Honesdale with a passion for biology and the desire to stay close to home.
Back then, Marywood was a comfortable choice. Just over 30 minutes from home, the school was well within her radius. Unlike neighboring schools, Marywood’s location and layout made it a safer and more traditional college campus experience. Most importantly, Marywood’s small classes fostered a welcoming environment for students to learn and ask questions, Hedgelon said. “I think it is a better learning experience than I would have had if I went to a larger university because there were some courses where I needed that one-on-one time with my professor.”
The challenge Hedgelon faced was more nuanced, but just as common; major of study. After shadowing in her field, Hedgelon’s uncertainty toward her initial degree, a bachelor’s of science in biology for secondary education, materialized into a definite realization that it was not for her.
“I knew I always wanted to be in science, biology especially. I really liked it, but I never knew what I could do with it,” Hedgelon said. “I feel like kids come in saying I need to do the PA program or I need to do the nursing program but I never wanted to do either.”
Armed solely with her passion for biology but unsure of the channels available for her to funnel it through, Hedgelon turned to her coursework for guidance. After taking a course in medicinal chemistry with Dr. Deanna Garver, Hedgelon was hooked.
She changed her major to biology in the pre-med track and turned to Dr. Garver for more guidance.
Her conversations with Dr. Garver illuminated the course’s practical application in the workforce and the positions she would be able to pursue with a general biology degree.
When Hedgelon began to wonder if there was anything she could take beyond her undergraduate degree that would help her break into the field of pharmacology, it was Dr. Garver who pointed her in the direction of Marywood’s five year bachelor’s and master’s in biotechnology program.
She suggested Hedgelon speak with Dr. Lisa Antonacci, the program head to inquire after possibly enrolling.
“I went to talk with her, but all the while I wasn’t even sure if I could do it,” Hedgelon said. “It was the spring semester of my junior year at this point, so I wasn’t sure if I was already past the deadline to apply.”
Dr. Antonacci encouraged her to continue in the application process, citing that rolling admissions extended the deadline past her junior year. Hedgelon scrambled to get her application and GRE score in, driving to Allentown to sit for the test as COVID-19 restrictions closed testing sites closer to home.
At last, Hedgelon was accepted into the program. To enhance her experience in the department, Hedgelon became a graduate research assistant for Dr. Antonacci’s study of the HTZ1 gene’s role in cohesion defects. She also assumed the role of an adjunct professor, teaching microbiology to nursing students.
Now, preparing to take on a position as a laboratory technician for clinical sampling at a local pharmaceutical company, Hedgelon looks forward to gaining critical clinical experience to advance her career. Her goal is first to become a clinical research associate and then possibly return to higher education as an instructor.
“I think that being at Marywood really helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my future. I think about all of the back and forths and all of the unknowns and changing my majors- I feel like all of that happened for a reason and I was meant to be at Marywood when that happened so I could talk to the people around me to figure out where I wanted to go,” Hedgelon said with a wistful smile as she surveyed the the lab station. “ I really don’t think that would have happened if I had gone to another college.”
Marywood's three biology tracks prepare students for careers in the health sciences field (medical, dental, and veterinary). The program advances students' knowledge of careers in the health sciences through academic advisement, tutoring services, workshops, and symposia. Our faculty guide their students through the application process and provide assistance with personal statements, and preparation for interviews.
Marywood's five-year Biotechnology program will not only provide you with professional and technical training, but also with the ability to critically evaluate biotechnology advances and applications, as the program blends modern science education with communication skills, management, and analytical reasoning. It is an interdisciplinary program that will prepare you to succeed in a variety of challenging arenas – from technical/lab research, to business management/research, to professional preparation for medical, dental, and veterinary schools.