Undergraduate Student Spotlight
"Who shall set a limit to the influence of a human being?" -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Samantha Nelson

Major: Biological Systems Engineering
Emphasis: Biomedical Engineering

What do you like best about your major?:

I like how versatile it is. With my major, I can choose between industry, research, graduate school, and any professional school. It really opens up post-graduation possibilities for me and gives me the confidence in whatever I choose to pursue. I’m also learning a lot of different things that I might not have had the chance to had I majored in a more generic science. 

What would you say about your professors?:

All of my professors have all been incredibly helpful through the past four years, but I have had the greatest experience with my BSEN professors in particular. They are always willing to go out of their way to assist me with course related questions, schedule questions and concerns, and general collegiate advice. My professors always know exactly how to explain course concepts in a way that is easy to comprehend and build off of as the semester progresses. 

Why did you decide to major in BSE? Were there any events in your life that made you interested in your major?:

I attended a “Women in Engineering” day in eighth grade at UNL and instantly fell in love not only with the campus, but the idea of what being an engineer would all entail. I found it really interesting that there was so much opportunity not only in engineering in general, but also for women. I had a long discussion with my parents about where I wanted to go in life and knew all along I wanted some relation to medicine, whether that be as a doctor, a researcher, or an engineer, I wanted to be involved in medical advances as the years progressed. My love for math really pushed me in the direction of engineering and this event helped a lot to show me a profession in engineering was possible. But I think the main reason I followed this particular path was due to my parents encouraging me to challenge myself and find something that really interested me every day and constantly pushed me toward my best. This major was the best of all worlds. 

How has UNL prepared you for your future career?:

UNL has provided me with opportunities for a balance between academics, extracurricular activities, research, and social engagement. My experiences within and outside of the classroom have exposed me to diversity, adversity, and continuous opportunities for success. I have had student working jobs for UNL for the past three years, all slightly different than the last, that have helped me develop professionally while I grew academically. Those experiences have given me speaking skills and a strong work ethic I can apply in the real world. I’ve also been able to interact with a lot of working professionals, whether that be professors or other University staff; I’ve interacted with such a wide variety of personalities and learned so much more from my surroundings. This has helped me prepare to work with a variety of individuals in my profession and learn to adjust to situations and individuals in order to persevere. 

What made your experience different from your classmates?:

I decided to actively involve myself outside of the classroom with a wide range of extracurricular activities and organizations. One of my favorite experiences was my time spent as a New Student Enrollment Orientation Leader. I was able to be on the other side of University facilitation, speaking to new students with sincere interest in their ambitions while sharing my own college story. My time spent that summer has opened the door to many professional relationships with other University faculty, recognizable engagements with fellow UNL students, and an incredible leadership experience. From then, I was able to express myself more openly and confidently, find further leadership opportunities, and gain quite a few friendships along the way. This experience has really shaped the rest of my college career. My experience made me more appreciative of the administrative side of the University and their constant strides toward improving students’ education. 

Why should a student choose a major in AGEN, BSEN, or MSYM?:

I think students should pursue a major in BSEN because of its versatility. Having an engineering degree is one more degree of separation in a large applicant pool. Sure, classes won’t always be easy. You’ll have homework and daily responsibilities to attend to, but you’ll gain a better work ethic during the process. A degree in AGEN, BSEN or MSYM offers more hands-on experience in the classroom and out in the real world. Courses are made up of more than just listening to lectures and taking notes. Labs, design projects, internships put you out in the field to experience what it will be like in the real world. This type of experience is invaluable. I also feel that the community in BSEN is very welcoming and close-knit. Having that type of support system is what has made my time studying and working so much more enjoyable. 

What co-curricular activities (clubs, research, on-campus jobs, study abroad, etc.) did you participate in outside of the classroom?:

I kept busy in multiple extracurricular activities. I was an active member of my sorority, Tri Delta, where I served as both the Social Chairman and Panhellenic Delegate. I then went on to serve as the Vice President of Recruitment for the Panhellenic Association, vice president and now President of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honors society, and member of Mortar Board, a senior honor society. I served as an NSE orientation leader and member of NSE student staff, an Honors Peer Mentor and Peer Mentor Leader, a teaching assistant and am currently a student worker for the Biological Systems Engineering department. I am currently a TeamMates mentor and a part of Nebraska Women’s Leadership Network. 

What did you most enjoy about your experience at UNL, specifically in the BSE department?:

I really enjoyed the classroom atmosphere in regards to BSEN. My course sizes were relatively small compared to other colleges, which allowed me to not only get to know the professor a little better, but also my peers. I have found a solid group of friends to study with for almost all of our courses together, hang out with in extracurricular clubs, and get to know better on a personal level. I have also really enjoyed how I can gain a little more of an in-depth educational experience through my time spent in the Honors Program. My involvement in this has given me multiple opportunities to take BSEN courses for Honors credit and do additional projects for each course. These projects have led to better faculty relationships and a deeper understanding of the content taught through the course. 

What advice would you give to a high school senior? Any specific classes they should take or clubs he or she should get involved in?:

Get involved! College is a lot different from high school in regards to responsibilities and academic rigor. Take advantage of your additional time to develop yourself professionally and academically, while having fun. Find a good group of study friends to keep you on task for each course; they keep you on track in the classroom and help you have fun along the way. Go out of your comfort zone in regards to courses you decide to take; you may find your professional goals change as you progress through the years. And above all else, have fun and don’t take life too seriously!