How I Got Ready: Dani’s Story

Dani Tallman came to Alverno convinced she would become a nurse. After all, she had worked for three years as a certified nursing assistant and is passionate about health care.

Her first two years of study at Alverno included the science classes, like anatomy and biology, that nursing students take to learn about the human body. To her surprise, she fell in love.

“I took a microbiology class and absolutely loved it,” she says. “I loved learning about different methods of how diseases go through the body and how they accumulate in the body.”

After that course, Tallman could have moved into nursing courses focused on developing clinical skills. But she didn’t want to leave science behind.

“It was like reading a book halfway through and then you set the book down. You’re missing half of the story,” she says. “I needed to know the other half!”

She began talking to her science and nursing faculty, who helped her connect her passion for health care to different scientific career paths. Their guidance led her to change her major to human biology.

“It’s an ideal major for someone who’s looking into different opportunities in health care. I learned so much from my faculty advisors as to what’s out there,” she says. “Now I have a huge interest in microbiology and immunology. There are master’s and PhD programs I’d like to pursue.”

To prepare for graduate school, Tallman set out to build her scientific research skills. She heard about a summer research project on campus, where she could work with faculty and her peers while gaining hands-on experience. She was willing to give it a shot, even though her initial impression of the project – testing area waterways for contaminants – was that it didn’t directly relate to her interest in health care.

“Then, I realized it’s more in tune with what I want to go into,” she says. “I learned how the levels of E. coli in the water determine if beaches are safe or not. They use microbiology testing methods.”

Tallman was hooked. By the end of the eight-week internship, she had built a strong foundation in data analysis and scientific research methods. “I learned so much that I can apply to my future internships and research,” she says.

Now at the mid-point of her college career, Tallman can see how she has grown in self-confidence.

“When I first began college, I would describe myself as friendly but not very extroverted. I wasn’t good with talking in front of groups and giving presentations,” she recalls. “At Alverno, I blossomed. I learned I love giving speeches!”

Tallman has also learned an important life lesson – to not be afraid to reach out to those around you.

“I never liked asking questions. But it’s okay to ask for help,” she says. “Know that the faculty and staff are working with you and for you.”

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