The magazine for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at
Iowa State University

Fully focused on an experiential education

Jennifer Gribble.
Jennifer Gribble.

On a busy Wednesday afternoon, Jennifer Gribble arrives 25 minutes early to her interview. She’s already purchased coffee, managed to snag a booth in the crowded campus café, and is waiting patiently for me to arrive.

It’s typical of Gribble’s personality: On time. Prepared. Ahead of the game.

Fall classes are in full swing, and Gribble, a junior in biochemistry, is fully absorbed in her lab, campus and leadership activities. She’s juggling the heavy course load that makes up her one job: School. And as a multiple scholarship award winner, she is able to wholly concentrate on that job.

Before her freshman year began, her parents – as most do – encouraged her to apply for scholarships. “I applied for every scholarship I believed was even remotely applicable to me,” she said. Every semester since, Gribble has earned at least one.

Her first was an LAS General Scholarship, which she has continued to earn each semester of school for her grades. She’s also a Marian LeFevre Scholarship recipient (which honors young women in science) and a John H. Weber Family Scholarship recipient (for showing continued academic promise). She was a National Merit Scholar in 2012, has made the Dean’s List since her freshman year, is enrolled in the University’s Honor Program, and is a BBMB Scholar.

I told you she was ahead of the game.

Gribble’s goal is to pursue a career in pharmaceutical research, specifically in molecular medicine. She’ll be on her way to medical school after graduating from Iowa State, and gives a lot of credit to her advisor and professors who have helped her succeed as an undergraduate.

“My department (the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) is extremely good at rewarding students for excelling academically,” she said. “I know they are looking out for me when a new scholarship opportunity comes along.”

Considering her course load, the idea of working another job outside of the university would be unrealistic. Gribble is working on adding two minors to her list of academics – microbiology and genetics – and although she is able to pile on more schoolwork because she doesn’t need a job to pay for school, Gribble said the real value of her list of scholarships is in the lab.

“Instead of being assigned to a lab as an undergraduate lab tech, I can work with the professors I want to, doing actual research,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about what the job pays or how many hours I need. It’s a lot more organic, and I’m learning more of what I want to learn when I’m not dwelling on a bottom line.”

Biochemistry isn’t an easy major, but through her own hard work – and the scholarships gifted from our alumni – Gribble is able to focus on excelling in her field. We can’t wait to see where her adventure takes her.

Gribble’s tips for earning a scholarship:
1. Work hard in the classroom. It’s your first step to achieving success.
2. Make yourself visible. Participate in clubs, help with events, mentor new students – get involved!
3. Establish relationships and make them meaningful. Visit your advisor often. Get to know your professors, they could become mentors or offer up space in their lab to work.