Working full-time as a pediatric home care nurse, 40-year-old Guy Harris has dedicated himself to retooling his career. He plans to enter the biotechnology industry while maintaining his nursing license after graduating this May with a bachelor’s of applied science in biotechnology.
“[Harris] has managed his work-school balance very well and developed himself into a very effective scientist,” said Randy Logan, director of the biotechnology program.
The hands-on experience Harris has gained through the biotechnology program is something he expects will be particularly useful as he enters the biotech field.
“It promotes autonomy and gives students experience with equipment and processes, which I know I will use in the industry,” said Harris.
Read on to find out about Harris’s successes as a student and advice on accepting failure.
Q: What was a typical day in your life like as a student?
A: I had classes at various times each day of the week. On weekends, I worked night shifts and try to spend as much time in the lab working on my capstone project. I also try to spend time with my family. This made for a pretty hectic schedule, and I slept whenever I got the chance.
Q: What makes you the happiest?
A: I am happiest when I know I did the right thing. This could be success in school, in the lab or just in everyday life.
Q: What motivates you?
A: I always love learning new things. I know I can always improve myself. This is what motivates me the most.
Q: Why did you choose KU and the Edwards Campus?
A: As a nontraditional adult student, I needed a campus which offered a program which was flexible with my work schedule. Also, the campus is less than 15 minutes from my house, so that is a big bonus!
Q: How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?
A: The advisors helped me tremendously in creating an academic completion plan as well as getting financial aid lined up. This was a complicated process for my situation, but the staff was so helpful.
Q: How has your KU degree prepared you for the future?
A: The biotechnology degree is a very hands-on degree. It promotes problem solving in practical lab scenarios. It also promotes autonomy and gives students experience with equipment and processes, which I know I will use in the industry.
Q: What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?
A: For me, it has been balancing working full-time, attending school full-time and maintaining some form of a personal life. The path I chose has been very demanding, both physically and mentally. I have learned to take one thing at a time. Being organized is a must!
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: My proudest accomplishment was simply deciding to go back to school and following through with completing my bachelor’s degree. I know graduating from KU will be something very special to me.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?
A: Surprisingly, my favorite memory was before I even started attending KUEC. During my last semester at JCCC, I came to campus to meet with my academic advisor. She took me down to the biotech lab and introduced me to the two biotech professors. They took unscheduled time out of their day to spend about 30 minutes visiting with me about the program. They were very welcoming and personable with me. That was when I knew I was in the right place.
Q: What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
A: I am going to maintain my nursing license; however, I do plan to eventually enter the biotech industry after I graduate. The degree program at KUEC has well-prepared me to enter the field. I am unsure at this point, but I may enter a master’s degree program at some point.
Q: What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s or a master’s?
A: Make sure you are interested in and truly enjoy what you are studying. Make sure you are committed to what you are studying. Accepting failures and being able to rectify them is also something you must be prepared to do. Put in the time and effort and you will succeed!