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Graduate shares how ASU pre-health opportunities helped influence career in medicine

Bayley Brennan will graduate from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in May with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences (neurobiology, physiology, and behavior), a minor in nutrition and healthy living, and a certificate in health and wellness coaching.

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.

Bayley Brennan knew she wanted to pursue a career related to health and wellness early in life. Her mother, a physical therapist, spurred the interest early as she taught Brennan about the body’s muscles. Soon her interest expanded to include the topic of nutrition.

“Especially in high school, I feel like there is a lot of societal pressure to look a certain way. My friends and I fell into that pressure. In college, I really wanted to learn about why nutrition was important and how to filter through the stuff that we see on social media versus what we should actually be doing to treat ourselves right,” Brennan said.

This spring, Brennan will graduate from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences (neurobiology, physiology, and behavior), a minor in nutrition and healthy living, and a certificate in health and wellness coaching.

Early on in her Arizona State University journey Brennan connected with resources including ASU’s Pre-Health Advising and found professional opportunities to learn from, like working as a chief scribe in an emergency department.

“We work with the doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the emergency department during their whole shift. As they see their patients, we follow them and complete the documentation for the provider,” she said. “It's really cool because you get an insight into the providers’ medical decision-making, why they're doing certain things and also how they can balance multiple patients.”

That hands-on experience helped Brennan determine what career path she would like to pursue after graduation.

“All the doctors I work with are amazing, but I noticed there isn't much of a focus on nutrition. I like the concept of integrative health and wellness coaching – using people's own abilities to help them improve with whatever they're trying to work at.”

Brennan shared more about what drew her to ASU and her experience in The College.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: I'm from Tucson and I always thought that I was just going to go to the University of Arizona, but then during the college admissions process, I looked more into ASU and Barrett, The Honors College. I always wanted to be an honor student in college because I was in high school. I thought ASU’s education was already good, but then adding the honors classes and the opportunity to get to know your professors a little bit better, that’s what ultimately really drew me to ASU.

Q: What’s something you learned while at The College — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: In the emergency department, we always see crazy critical cases and I never really understood the background behind those cases, until I took an animal physiology class my spring semester of my sophomore year. We learned all these different things, about the kidneys and the heart and how it ties into body function. Then when I went to work, I noticed the lab values matched up and then when we gave medications, I actually understood the mechanism of action and how it worked. It was really cool that my education could tie into what I want to do in the future and that was the first time that I actually saw it in action.

Q: Did you receive any scholarships or financial support while at ASU? If yes, how did those impact your experience?

A: I received the President's Award which is basically the reason that I got to come here. My parents are very fiscally responsible, and wanted me to go to (UArizona) and live at home to save money. I compared the costs and was able to show ASU was not that much more expensive and I could live on campus and get to grow up a little bit. So that scholarship is basically the reason that I got to come here and I'm really glad that I was able to.

Q: Were there any clubs/organizations or opportunities that positively impacted your ASU experience?

A: Alpha Epsilon Delta is the pre-health club on campus and I joined when I was a freshman. I was looking for guidance and knew since everyone was applying to some sort of pre-health program that they would be able to be there and guide me. It has been probably one of the best experiences I've had. I was president this past year, so being able to lead the club that really helped me out when I was an undergrad was a really good experience.

Q: What message or advice would you share for future first-year students?

A: Even if you want to pursue medical school or whatever your goals are, still enjoy your life. I would be nowhere if I didn't have my boyfriend to hang out with outside of class and do fun things with, or my roommates. Make sure that you make time to also care for yourself. I have my exercise routine and my personal self-care stuff.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I got into the University of Arizona College of Medicine, which I'm going to be starting in June. I don't know what I want to do necessarily, there are so many options and I'm looking forward to getting to explore them.

Kirsten Kraklio
kkraklio@asu.edu