Our youngest, Kayla, is a high school senior and that means she is in the process of choosing her college. She has chosen to attend Carroll College located in Helena, Montana. Carroll College is a small Catholic University with an over-the-top reputation for matriculating pre-med students to medical school. Kayla wants to be an Emergency Room Doctor so a program like Carroll’s is perfect.
Last summer, Kayla received a Presidential Scholarship from Carroll College so in February we traveled to attend 2017’s Presidential Scholarship recipient’s event. While there, I was able to attend two TED-Talk-styled lectures. The first was regarding original research lead by Carroll undergraduates as it relates to West Nile Virus and its distribution and associated probabilities in Montana. The second session was completely different; it was a discussion on the history of Chinese immigrants in early Montana.
When professors are able to connect our real world with our learning world, student, faculty, and our connected communities all gain a brighter future.
Part 1: West Nile Virus in Montana — Fascinating
We learned a great deal about the cycle of the West Nile Virus including that there are hosts that are not compatible with its transmission either because in some cases the host dies and in others the host destroys the virus. That leaves hosts that are compatible with the virus’ transmission.
It also turns out that while there are many types of mosquitos, not all are carriers (vectors to use the professor’s terms). Additionally, since Montana is a large state Carroll College is unable to provide an entire team of scientists and students solely dedicated to performing the necessary research, analysis, and data collection so Carroll collaborates with several other universities and invites them to participate and “Share” in the results.
Why am I writing about this? Well, first I found this Fascinating and Interesting. The implications to people (several hundred die each year in the USA from West Nile), to livestock (the economic engine of much of the west), to native and wild species some and many who are not impacted at all.
Original collegiate research was a graduate student’s world when I was in school. Today, institutions like Carroll College are offering this type of research to the undergraduates. This means that younger people are learning earlier in their careers such skills (practical application), e.g. the value of collaboration, teamwork, planning, reporting, data collection, reporting, and integrity, along with understanding that research initiated in one year or in one season will be continued for many others and hence important work oftentimes takes a long time and high-level thinking and Vision (What does the future look like; What is beyond tomorrow).
From what I observed during my short visit was that Carroll College is focused on empowering and delivering graduates with skills that future employers value and oftentimes these “skills” have more value to a potential employer than formal knowledge.
I hat-tip the professors and administrators at Carroll College for understanding the value of integrating even their newest students into original research projects that lead to real world comprehension of goals, objectives, and deadlines. That collaboration, communication, and spirit of service are frequently more important than the pure theoretical knowledge that lacks direct application. When professors are able to connect our real world with our learning world, student, faculty, and our connected communities all gain a brighter future.