When Roger Klein told his high school guidance counselor in Grosse Pointe, Mich., that he was interested in science and research, the counselor suggested a number of colleges Klein had heard of, like Cornell University, and one that he had not: Wooster.
As Klein made the round of campus visits, something striking occurred when he reached Wooster. Wandering around the chemistry building, he paused to read something posted outside a professor’s office. “He looked up, saw me, and asked if I had any questions,” Klein recalls. “We wound up having a 45-minute conversation.”
That bit of serendipity, and the evidence it offered of how engaged Wooster faculty are with their students, convinced Klein that this was the place for him. He declined Cornell’s offer of admission and enrolled at Wooster.
From the start, Klein took advantage of Wooster’s many opportunities to conduct research with a faculty mentor. The summer after his first year, he worked with chemistry professor Virginia Pett on a project that carried through the following academic year. He attended the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s conference that spring as well, the first of two such trips.
When Wooster alum Jason Rosch ’01, a post-doc at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., returned to campus to give a talk during Klein’s junior year, he helped fast-track an application for an 11-week research assignment in the hospital’s pediatric oncology program the following summer.
So by the time Klein was ready to begin work on his senior Independent Study research project at Wooster, he was really ready. As a double major, he had two faculty advisers for his I.S., Don Jacobs in physics and Mark Snider in biochemistry and molecular biology. And it seemed only fitting that Snider was the same professor who had spent 45 minutes talking with a high school student he met in the hall of the chemistry building four years earlier.
Today, Klein is enrolled in Washington University’s medical scientist training program, whose eight-year course of study leads to both an M.D. and a Ph.D. The federally funded program provides a full-tuition scholarship, plus an annual stipend, and aims to train the next generation of medical researchers. Klein’s goal is to work in an academic medical center setting, spending about 70 percent of his time conducting research and 30 percent on patient care.
Wooster, Klein says, prepared him very well for an extremely demanding graduate program. “Wooster taught me how to think critically…and the leadership roles I had at Wooster prepared me to work better as part of a team.”
What advice does Klein have for students in the throes of the college search today?
“Go where you think you’ll get the best education. Don’t worry about a name. Wooster attracts those who want to do well, and if you’re motivated, Wooster makes it very hard to fail.”
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