Patterson follows Justice through HPU’s biomedical science program

Howard Payne University’s biomedical science program reached two significant milestones recently with the graduation of its first program participant and the admittance of its second student. Hannah Justice of Brownwood, who was admitted to the program as a sophomore in 2017, graduated in May and Morgan Patterson, a junior from Kerrville, will begin coursework in the program this fall.

The demanding program prepares students for various health professions through challenging coursework similar to what they will encounter as graduate students. To be considered for admission to the program, students must complete 60 semester hours with a GPA of at least 3.0, complete required biology and chemistry courses, submit an application packet to the program and interview with the Biomedical Science Admissions Committee.

“HPU students pursuing the biomedical science degree will begin as a biology major,” said Dr. Kristen Hutchins, associate professor of biology and director of HPU’s biomedical science program. “Once they’ve met the requirements for admission, they can then apply to become a Biomedical Scholar and finish their HPU degree in biomedical science.”

From her perspective as a newly minted HPU graduate, Justice appreciates the ways the experience prepared her for her future in the medical field and for life.

“This program is very rigorous,” Justice said, “but you’re given so many resources and get to be in a program that’s specifically tailored to what you want to do. It has definitely prepared me to go to graduate school. Working with Dr. Hutchins has also been very rewarding. She has given me guidance in the classroom and in life and has encouraged me, supported me and believed in me when I didn’t always believe in myself.”

Justice largely attributed her completion of the program to the support of friends, family and others in the HPU community. She explained that being at HPU helped her to focus on Christ as the motivation for her hard work.

“You need people in your life who are there to encourage you and also keep you humble,” she said. “The great thing about this program being at HPU is that it provides that kind of accountability by reminding you of who you are in Christ and who you’re doing this for.”

Justice also gave advice for those preparing to enroll in the program in the future.

“Don’t let the hard work scare you,” she said. “Pursuing any sort of pre-health profession is sometimes dubbed as impossible, especially if you’re attending a small university, but if you are willing to put in the hard work and be diligent then it’s completely possible.”

Justice has been accepted to her first choice of medical schools, Texas Tech University, where she will be studying for the next four years. She will then participate in a residency program for three to five years to become board certified in a specialty of her choosing.

“When working with our department to design the biomedical science program, I had students like Hannah in mind,” said Dr. Hutchins. “She is driven, curious and has a love of science and people. She persevered through hard semesters and allowed the Lord to guide her as she made decisions about her future. Getting to mentor Hannah over the last few years has been such a treasure to me.”

As Justice was wrapping up her time in the biomedical program and at HPU, Patterson was just getting started. She completed her sophomore year and is majoring in the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy as well as biomedical science. She interviewed for admission to the program in spring 2019.

“I was nervous for my interview, but I’m really excited to be the next person in the program,” said Patterson. “I‘ve known my whole life that I’ve wanted to be somewhere in the health field. When I applied to HPU I just knew that this program was my best chance at getting into a graduate school in the health field.”

Patterson said she has wanted to be a veterinarian since high school, but was unsure until college.

“When I was in high school I wanted to be a vet, but I thought I wasn’t cut out for it,” she said. “When I came to college that changed. In our health professions seminar class with Dr. Hutchins we heard from a local veterinarian and everything he said just really spoke to me. I just felt that was where God was calling me.”

Though initially nervous, Patterson is excited to begin work in the program.

“I’m looking forward to all of the opportunities that it’s going to open up for me, such as getting to meet professionals who are already in the field,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to working with Dr. Hutchins. I think she does a great job at connecting students to the right resources and the right people.”

Dr. Hutchins is confident that Patterson will thrive in the program and is eager to see her grow in her field of study.

“Morgan joins our biomedical science program this year having already demonstrated that she can handle rigor in the Honors Academy and her science courses, all while being a collegiate athlete,” said Dr. Hutchins. “Each of those alone is challenging! In addition, Morgan is incredibly humble and kind. I am excited to walk that road with her as she prepares for a profession in veterinarian medicine. She will be excellent.”

As Dr. Hutchins looks to the future of the program, she expresses her enthusiasm for the students and for the university’s positioning to help equip them for meaningful careers.

“Hannah, Morgan and other Biomedical Scholars who come through our program will take with them not only their academic training in the sciences, but also their Christian liberal arts education and worldview,” said Dr. Hutchins. “These things will help ground them as they become health care providers.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2019 semester at Howard Payne University (www.hputx.edu/apply). For more information about HPU, including the wide range of available financial aid options, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at enroll@hputx.edu.

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Cutline: HPU graduate Hannah Justice (left) stands with junior Morgan Patterson (right). They are the first and second students, respectively, to enroll in HPU’s biomedical science program. Justice completed the program and graduated in May 2019.