Health Science

Student Spotlight: Margaret Payne

Margaret Payne, Senior biochemistry major and family and society minor from Nashville, Tennessee, is enjoying her last few weeks as an Ave student. This fall she will begin her studies as a Master's Chiropractic student at Palmer University in Port Orange, FL. Margaret is incredibly involved at Ave Maria and can be found working in Mission Outreach, doing research, and participating in service work with the Mother Teresa Project. Margaret is effervescent and will be so missed around campus.

How have you spent your undergraduate years preparing for a career in chiropractic care?

I’ve used my undergraduate summers to work in three different chiropractic offices. The summer after my freshman year, I worked in an office where I was the front desk secretary. It was modeled after massage envy and was somewhat impersonal. The patients came in, got their adjustment, and payed a flat fee. It was interesting, but it also showed me how I don’t want to run my practice. I think that patients should understand the quality of care that they are getting and be involved in the decisions regarding their treatment plan. The following summer, I worked for two doctors who were just opening up a new practice in Nashville. I was the secretary for them, as well, but they had a very different approach than the first office that I worked for. They had a very different style of adjustment, which was centered on holistic healthcare. The owner was a functional medicine doctor, and she helped me to figure out what I had going on with my own health. Working for her showed me that chiropractic care and nutrition go hand in hand, and in order to really heal ourselves, we need to integrate the two. Last summer I worked for a doctor as a chiropractic assistant. I was put in charge of teaching the patients the exercises that the doctor recommended and briefed them on how the office worked. I also was in charge of planning events, which I really loved. This office was different than the others that I worked for because they treated their patients as a whole person. That kind of chiropractic approach is what really drew me into the field. It made me think, “This is what a primary care doctor should be!”. I love that the future is heading toward a much more integrated system of healthcare. There is a place for medicine and a place for nutrition, but it is awesome to see how they can work hand in hand.

Did the Biochemistry program at Ave prepare you with the pre-requisite classes that you needed in order to be accepted into Palmer?

Yes, absolutely! I actually knew that Palmer was my first choice of chiropractic schools for a long time. It was the only school that I applied to, but I applied in enough time that if I didn’t get in, I could apply elsewhere and still meet the deadlines. I do feel really prepared for chiropractic school, which is why I chose to study biochemistry at Ave. With classes like medical terminology, nutrition, anatomy, biochemistry, and health science modules, Ave gave me the tools that I needed in order to know how to think and how to approach all of the sciences, as well as how to study. Because I took these classes, I have a deeper understanding of what is happening in the body at the most minute level. It’s really beautiful to understand the body and I am so excited to go forward with grad school and continue to learn about the human body. God is so unbelievable! There are hundreds of thousands of processes going on in the body at any given time, yet we just go about our day and take His craftsmanship for granted. If you treat your body right and try to give your body everything that it needs, it knows what to do and how to heal itself. I find that fascinating. 

Did your participation in mission work influence your decision to go into the health field?

I went to Honduras on mission trips twice when I was in high school and I also went with Ave to Calcutta to work in the children's homes and the home for the dying. I remember just looking at the older men and women with terribly hunched backs and thinking, “When I’m a chiropractor, all I need is my hands to provide relief and give them the tools to ease their pain.” I think it is so beautiful how one human can ease the pain of another. So much pain could be prevented with the simple remedies that we have access to and take for granted. The children in these developing countries, especially, are so hard to see…their suffering breaks your heart. I think it would be so cool to go somewhere and do as much good as possible. I don’t know if I’ll ever be in the position to do something like that long-term, but I would love to set up a program to adjust homeless people wherever I live. You have nothing if you don’t have your health, so to be able to give that gift to someone would mean so much to me. Ave has taught me that mission work doesn’t have to be abroad, it can be right in your hometown. Just like Mother Teresa said, "Find your Calcutta".

Is there anything that someone who wants to go into the medical field should absolutely do before senior year?

If you think you want to go into a certain field, in order to really know, you need to get a job in that field before you graduate. Be an office secretary, volunteer at a local clinic once a week, shadow a surgeon, it doesn't matter, but you need to see the day-to-day inner workings of the career that you plan to pursue. Doing this will really help you with your decision. The experience that you gain as an undergrad in the medical field may not show you exactly what you’d be doing as a working professional, because you’re not the doctor, but you get a great understanding. No amount of research on the internet competes with real life experience. You can Google all you want, but the experience of working with a patient and seeing hundreds of cases is something that you could never gain if you didn't step foot into an office.

What is the best class that you have taken at Ave? 

Catholic Social Teaching with Doctor Rezende, hands down. The importance of everything I had learned in philosophy, theology…everything I learned growing up in a Catholic community was communicated in a way that I had never heard it before. It gave me the tools for how to live day to day as a Catholic in this world. It’s our duty to make the world better and this class was sort of the capstone of my education here. It was easily the best class I have ever taken. Going forward, I know that it deeply helped to shape my viewpoint on my position in the world. I will be able to implement what I learned in my career, my daily life, and in raising a family someday. I came to Ave for the formation, and that is exactly what I got and more.


Transitioning to Palmer from Ave, how will you take what you learned from Ave and who you became? What will make you different as a chiropractor because you came to Ave?

I think that something about Ave is that, for example, in moral theology we learned that the virtue of chastity is supposed to help incorporate our sexuality into our whole being and moderate it to the point that we aren’t controlled by our desires. Everything is supposed to be incorporated into who you are as a person. You’re not supposed to be dominated by one part of you. I’m not going to be Margaret the chiropractor, I’m going to be Margaret. I will hopefully be a wife and mother and Catholic, and I am also going to be a chiropractor. I hope that people will see something of Christ in me and in my practice and how I treat them. That’s what we are called to do - be Christ and bring His light. One of my favorite things that Saint Francis said is, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words”. I love that. If it comes to a point that I have interactions with people who want to have a conversation with me about Catholicism, I feel very well equipped to answer their questions, and if I don’t know the answer off the top of my head, I know where I can turn! 

Would you like to give a shout-out to a professor?

Thank you Doctor Peliska! He is the sole reason I am still a biochemistry major come senior year. I remember when he invited all of the biochemistry majors over to his house for a barbecue. He gave a little welcome at the beginning and said, “It is really cool to look around and see all of these people who want to study this amazing science and do it for the Church to help better the world.” He had tears in his eyes, and all I could think is, "This man is so passionate". He has conveyed that passion to all of us and has made such amazing strides in this program in the short time since it was created. He is one of those teachers who just makes you so excited to learn. You’re never worried to ask him a question because he never makes you feel like your question is dumb. Everything he teaches is taught in a way that can be understood. He stopped us in class one time when we were studying metabolic pathways and said, “This is one of those things that when you look at it, how could you not believe in God as the ultimate designer?!”. That is why you come to Ave. You learn from the best of the best in every aspect and your studies are always integrated with the faith. What a wonderful man. I am so grateful for him.

Student Spotlight: Gabriel Hogan

Gabe Hogan.jpg

Gabe Hogan is known around campus for being insanely fast. The freshman cross-country runner from Oxford, Michigan appreciates all of the beautiful diversity that Florida has to offer and is really enjoying his first year at Ave. Gabe is currently discerning which major he will pursue, and leaning toward a field in the health sciences. He is captivatingly funny, always in high spirits, and a joy to be around.

What are your hobbies? 

I love to play soccer, ultimate frisbee, and I love to run…basically anything that involves being outside. I don't belong in a chair. 

Tell me about your running career

I tried out for soccer my freshman year of high school just for fun because I really enjoyed the sport. We did a timed two mile run as part of try-outs and I did it in under eleven minutes. My coach looked at me and said, “You’re in the wrong sport right now.” I tried out for cross country shortly after and fell in love. Distance is my thing, not sprints. The fastest mile I ever ran took me four minutes and thirty seconds. My best 5k time is 15:52. I don’t feel like I’m all that fast, but the more I think about, it the crazier it is to me. I pick a pace and I don’t really slow down, that’s my strategy. I just tried running an 8k this year and definitely met my match. It’s a new beast and I have yet to figure out the distance and how to pace it accordingly. Running is applied to every aspect of my life in a ridiculous way…I’m sort of a running nerd. If I’m not running, I’m using running as an analogy. Running allows me to focus and push myself to be the best version of me. 

Is there a big difference training for cross-country in Florida vs. in Michigan?

In the beginning the difference was very noticeable. The first few weeks were really tough and I did have to adjust, but that mostly just meant running earlier in the day than I was used to. Here I almost exclusively run when the sun either has set or hasn't risen yet, that way I avoid the worst of the humidity. In that aspect I've lost sleep for the sake of running. One of the hidden perks of Florida is the lack of hills though! I would say Michigan offers more flexibility, but Florida in general is a bit easier to run in... especially because I can run year round!

As someone who is a Freshman and undeclared, where do you see yourself after graduation?

I like science and I like the idea of helping people. I’m leaning towards exercise science, but nursing sounds really appealing as well. I was helped by a bunch of physical therapists in high school because I was injured a few times. My achilles tendon is actually my achilles heel. My PT’s helped me with that and I was super impressed by how much they knew about the body. I liked the techniques they gave me to train more efficiently and I could definitely picture myself doing that. I also have interest in being a nurse. I see hospitals as a pretty foreboding place right now with a lot people that are sad. I like to make people smile as much as I can, so if I could go in there and make someone laugh while doing my job, it might be a form of medication.

What are your three favorite places in the world?

I like to wander because it helps me realize how great my home is. My three favorite places in the world are Canada, Spain, and Michigan. In Canada, there is this place called Prince Edward Island. We have extended family up there on my mom’s side and in the summer, we go up to this house that is right on the ocean. Our favorite thing is the water trampoline they have that is 400 meters off-shore. Being there with our cousins is just such great, innocent fun. We have a lobster fest, skip rocks for hours, make bonfires, and look at the stars.

My second favorite place would have to be Spain. It is very, very beautiful. I didn’t really get to see the touristy part of it because I walked the Camino with some guys from my diocese back home. I think we did about 180 miles in total. We were very much in the back country, so we really got a feel for normal life in Spain, rather than the hustle of the city. 

Michigan is my most favorite. My family and I live in the middle of nowhere on 10 acres and I love having our own little area. It has been an amazing place to grow up just because of all of the freedom. I also love the Sleeping Bear sand dunes up in Leelanau and the town of Petoskey. 

What keeps you motivated?

You know how I said earlier that I use running as an analogy for a lot of things? One of the things I love about running is that there is a very obvious goal in place. If you don't run as fast as you did before, the clock is going to show it. It won’t lie to you. Instead, it will make you want to step up your game! I like the idea of brutal truth keeping me accountable.  I try to be as honest with myself as I can and to evaluate what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong. I am very self motivated but there are definitely people that I look up to, and I think to myself, “They didn’t take off days, so neither should I.” I’m always looking to be a better me.

Do you have a resume?

I do not, but I know I need to make one! Thinking about going back home and working this summer, I know that I should have one ready in case a future employer wants to see it.

What do you plan on doing this summer?

I would really like to get into a facility called Health Quest near me, which is a physical therapy office. I don’t think I’ll get paid, it would just be more of an internship/shadowing job because I haven’t really taken any pre-health classes that are specific to the health field. I have a couple of jobs at home that I could go back to in the restaurant business. I'm hoping not to, but they seem to be the most convenient at present. 

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

Probably just the amount of craziness that comes with the college year.  I guess the funniest thing is just looking back on what I thought college was going to be like. For example, I was at a friend’s house in town and we made pizza rolls. I had a meeting back on campus, so I didn’t have enough time to eat them before the meeting. I borrowed a scooter and rode as fast as I could back to campus holding a plate of pizza rolls. I thought I was going to be put-together and official when I was in college, but there I was, scootering down Ave Blvd. with pizza rolls in hand.

Tell me about the Debate Team!

At the end of last semester, Ambrose, Augustine, and JP approached me and said that they needed a judge for their debate meeting. At that time, August was the only one with any formal training. Strangely, I actually ended up speaking at that meeting because one of the team members couldn’t make it. They asked me a few weeks later to formally join their team, and the first thing we did after I joined was go to Colorado to compete! We went in as total underdogs and got destroyed first round, but by the third round, we were holding our own and really competing. It was impressive because we have no formal training whatsoever. Some of the students there were crazy good speakers. You’re on a timetable when you’re speaking, so if you are fast, that’s a big factor. If you can be persuasive, fast, and coherent, though, you're deadly.

The biggest shock was at the end of the competition. The judges scored each individual teammate and announced the top three individual speakers of the whole competition. I remember sitting in the audience listening to the judges announce the third and second place winners, and I was just thinking, “Who could be number one? Those two were the best! I can’t think of a better person!”, but there were a few teams I hadn’t gone up against, so I just figured it was one of them. All of a sudden, my team mates were all looking at me and yelling “GO! IT’S YOU!”, and I was so confused. I did not have any clue what was happening. They said the look on my face was priceless when I realized I had won. I still don’t really believe it, but it was a really nice surprise!

What do you look forward to in your college career? What do you hope to accomplish?

*Laughing* First and foremost, I’d like to pick a degree. After that, I would like to feel very confident in my studies and be able to have fun studying for the career path that I choose. However, I also don’t want to miss the little things. I am so excited to be down here. It’s not a vacation, don't get me wrong, but there are definitely things I want to see or try before I leave Florida. I want to see the Keys, go on a fan boat ride, and explore the Everglades. I didn’t think I’d be joining a debate club and having such a fun year in general.  I’m excited for the surprises and the academic success which I’m hoping will continue to come. I want to rise to the occasion and have fun while doing it.

Who is your favorite Professor?

Dr. Dittus. Math is not my thing at all, and every time I’m sitting in class thinking, “When would I use this?”, he talks about its' application it to real life and gives specific examples as to when you could use what we are studying. He has just always made math a lot more fun. I also really like Mrs. Blanchard. She’s an awesome teacher. I love her sarcasm because it makes class so entertaining. If you’re falling asleep, you’re going to miss comments that may or may not be aimed at you.