Sam Theis in the lab at Cal Lutheran

Sam Theis in the lab at Cal Lutheran

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

My name is Samuel Theis, I graduated from Cal Lutheran in 2014 as cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, with departmental honors. Lengthy, I know – it’s the official name of just one degree though, not two separate degrees!

Sam Theis at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Sam Theis at LECOM

Where and what are you studying now? What’s your end goal?

Currently, I’m attending the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and living in Erie, Pennsylvania.

I’m an OMS-I at LECOM pursuing a degree in Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). I am also funding my education through a military – sponsored medical scholarship as a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force (which I highly recommend to any aspiring docs, by the way). As a physician, I plan to serve in the Air Force on base somewhere for 4 years post-residency, which will conclude my obligation to the scholarship. After that, I have no clue where my path will take me, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

 How did Cal Lutheran help to prepare you for your current career path?

Everything about Cal Lutheran is small – except for how much the faculty care about their students’ success. Many of the faculty run an open-door policy, and are extremely friendly and accessible. Additionally, many classes are powered by discussions, which serve two purposes – they encourage you to read ahead of time to get an idea of the material, and allow the student to hear different ideas or approaches. This is the essence of a liberal arts education, and in my opinion is what distinguishes CLU from other large-scale universities. The science program is rigorous, unique, and highly influenced by new technologies: some of your courses may even take place in a computer lab where your job is to program molecular structure, or decipher and analyze strings of DNA. The Cal Lutheran science department is moving more towards a practical hands-on learning environment that takes the student outside of the traditional learning environment for the sake of real-world experience, which translates to more success in industry and future academia.

 What advice would you give to the current or prospective students of your major?

As a student, remember that your job is to study. The transition from high school to college is going to present itself as a big obstacle, and you want to make sure that you start out on top and ahead, instead of falling behind. Treat your peers and faculty with respect, as they will be your strongest advocates at going places after college. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be respectful to your professors in all circumstances, especially in an increasingly impersonal world. Those relationships that you establish now will follow you for a long time!

That being said, take time to enjoy yourself as well! The relationships that you develop here (professional or otherwise) will stay with you for a lifetime, so take time to live a little and socialize – it may be the last time you’ll get the chance before the real world!

Don’t pigeonhole yourself! If you are pursuing a career in medicine, but feel more at home in a different club (say, CLU’s American Chemical Society Student Chapter), join it! Employers and graduate schools are more interested in what you got from your experiences, not where you got them. Being a member of AMSA but having nothing interesting to say about how it influenced your undergraduate experience does nothing towards making yourself an attractive candidate!

What do you miss the most about being a Cal Lutheran student?

I miss seeing all of my friends on the West Coast, and the weather there of course.