Math and Science
Bachelor of Science in Microbiology
Completing Doctorate of Pharmacy
When Matt Burke set out to earn his bachelor’s degree in microbiology, he pursued it with one goal in mind ó to go to medical school and become an optometrist. However, as things often do in life, after an internship at an optometrist’s office after graduation, Burke realized the career was not for him. But he quickly found a job working with a private company that helped large corporations meet Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental guidelines. Now, Burke is pursuing a new career goal, beginning with working towards earning his Doctorate of Pharmacy.
Why did you choose your major?
I chose the program because originally, I wanted to become an optometrist. The college I decided on was a liberal arts school, so I choose microbiology as a way to complete a set of required courses that most medical schools look for, and as a way to mentally prepare me for medical school. It also knew it would give me a solid understanding of working in a laboratory setting.
What did you like/dislike about it?
The thing I liked most about my major at the time was that it provided me with a way to get to the next level and reach my goals of becoming an optometrist. I also really enjoyed the study of virology and microscopic organisms. Learning how they relate to medicine and the human body was fascinating to me. Learning how people are able to study microbiology to create vaccines, and find cures for disease and infection, was extremely interesting. The only thing I really disliked about the major was that I didnít enjoy a lot of the lab work. There are a lot of times in labs where it is just you and a microscope. It becomes very monotonous, and I am definitely a person who enjoys working in groups. You donít get to do a lot of that.
How has choosing your major impacted your career?
Originally, I wanted to become an optometrist, but after graduation, I decided it wasnít the best fit for me, so instead I used my degree to get a job with a private company that helped corporations meet EPA and state environmental laws. Being exposed to so many math and sciences courses helped me perform my job functions by helping me understand how chemical and gaseous waste contaminations can affect people and the environment. It also helped when it came to putting together plans to help companies properly dispose of their waste. I also worked directly with civil engineers to make sure there were no environmental hazards present on a build site. This involved taking soil samples and doing some lab work, which was similar to some things I had done while pursuing my degree.
What skills from your major do you still use?
At my previous jobs, just having a broad knowledge of biology, chemistry, and math helped me understand the different aspects of my job, but now that I have been accepted into pharmacy school, my major will help a great deal. Beyond the fact that my major gives me the aptitude and confidence to study to become a pharmacist, I think all of the labs I completed, and the amount of cellular study I did, will really help me.
What advice would you give future students hoping to pursue a math major?
I think students going into microbiology, or any degree in science, need to look at their major as a stepping stone to something else. There is a lot you can do with a bachelor’s degree in science, but most careers, especially in any kind of medicine or research, require a master’s and doctorate. Also, microbiology can be boring first, but if you stick with it, it can materialize into a lot of different options once you graduate.