By Laurel Bennett, Features Editor
Gettysburg College is known for its consequential education which enriches and prepares students, both in their time at Gettysburg as well as in their experiences following graduation. Kathryn Van Pelt ’23 is a recent alumnus who is currently in her first-year at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.
Van Pelt credits the professors at Gettysburg and the college’s multitude of opportunities for helping her to attend dental school. With a major in health sciences and dual minors in chemistry and biology, Van Pelt had her sights on dental school throughout her years at Gettysburg. The skills she learned because of her classes and extracurricular commitments have helped to set her up for success as a graduate student.
“Managing multiple science labs at once taught me efficient time management skills, which is critical when I am now in school for forty hours a week and still have to find time to study and do things that make me happy,” Van Pelt explained. “When I was taking the five-hour Dental Admission Test (DAT) to get into dental school, I remembered the long hours of general chemistry lab at Gettysburg.”
Van Pelt appreciates the vast array of courses that are offered to students at Gettysburg, and her experiences in a ceramics class taught by Associate Professor of Art and Art History Tina Gebhart prepared her for the hands-on nature of dental school.
“I have to sculpt each tooth out of wax in dental school,” Van Pelt said. “The vast number of pulls and trimming I did in ceramics class to get a tall height on pitchers and nice beveled feet on pieces taught me dexterity and patience that has significantly helped me in my wax lab.”
Van Pelt served as president of the Pre-Health Professions Club on campus for two academic years, which exposed her to a wide array of healthcare careers despite her trajectory towards dental school.
“Interacting with guest speakers from all different healthcare jobs in the Pre-Health Professions club at Gettysburg is helping me have more confidence when communicating with patients,” she said.
Aside from her involvement with the Pre-Health Professions Club, Van Pelt worked as a communications assistant for the athletic department the entirety of her time at Gettysburg, and she was a peer learning associate for the chemistry department.
Even though Van Pelt spent long hours balancing homework and getting involved with extracurriculars, her commitment shaped her into the student she now is.
“I never expected Gettysburg to prepare me in so many ways, but the skills I learned there have prepared me for my next steps,” Van Pelt said.
She reflects fondly on her four-years at Gettysburg, despite her education being significantly interrupted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She hopes current and future Gettysburg students will do the same.
“Live in the present, appreciate what you have, make the most of your time at Gettysburg and don’t forget to call home,” Van Pelt concluded.
This article originally appeared on page 22 of the No. 2 October 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.