VIU Graduates Shine at Biology Career Night

VIU biology graduate Darcy Good is on his way to becoming a medical doctor. Good is currently a UBC medical school student and he was happy to come back and share what his experience has been like, and to show students that you can get to medical school through VIU.

January 18, 2016 - 2:00pm

Darcy Good is in medical school at UBC, Sandie Dekker is a hematologist, and Morgan Attwell works for the Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society, a non-profit that introduces the wonders of the natural world to children.

They are just three of eight Vancouver Island University (VIU) biology graduates who took to the stage at Malaspina Theatre on Jan. 6 to share stories of what work has been like since they left university.

More than 100 people came out to the second annual Biology Career Night to listen to presentations and ask the former VIU students questions about their experiences. When it was over, it was clear that those who attended were impressed.

“I came tonight because I already know that I want to go into biology after high school, I’m just trying to decide whether to stay close to home or to move,” said Dover Bay Secondary student, Korrina Gilchrist.

“After hearing the presenters tonight and seeing what they’ve been able to accomplish, I think the decision is going to be much easier. The way I’m feeling now, I definitely want to come to VIU.”

Gilchrist was there with two of her friends. They joined members of the public, other high school students and a large group of first and second year VIU students.

VIU biology technician Wendy Simms organized the event. She says when they held it the first time they expected it to be a one off, but the feedback they got from the first and second year VIU students in particular made it clear Biology Career Night had to become an annual event.

“Last year we found that the first and second year VIU students were the most impacted. While many students had been considering transferring to a different university to complete their degree, attending our event made them realize they were better off staying at VIU. It made us realize that showcasing the opportunities at VIU to our own students was just as important as attracting new ones,” said Simms.

“After hearing the wide range of experiences the graduates shared and seeing the successful careers they went into, the students changed their minds. Because of what they saw during that first career night they decided to stay at VIU and that, to us, was significant. We knew then we had to do it again.”

Most of the presenters talked about the impact one course, Biology 491, had on them. Biology 491 is unique to VIU. The self-directed, one-year research course involves fourth year students in the scientific process while advancing their field and laboratory research skills. Student projects in the course address topics of interest to people in the community and cover a broad range of scientific areas including molecular biology, cell biology, ecology, parasitology, microbiology and botany.

Darren Buchanan graduated from VIU in 2014 with a BSc in biology. He now works as a microbiology specialist at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox, BC. He said when he first came to VIU he considered studying kinesiology, architecture, and many other things before discovering biology and loving it. When he was asked to participate in Biology Career Night, he jumped at the chance.

“When I was a student I always participated in events like this so when they asked me to help out, I said yes right away,” said Buchanan.

“In my presentation I just wanted to share with the students what it’s like to be using what I learned here at VIU in the work world, and to tell them that even though it might not seem like it right now - it all makes sense down the road. I was telling them that I was exactly where they are right now. The message was about how I got through it and now, how much I love what I’m doing.”

Once Buchanan graduated, he said he didn’t realize the opportunities that his degree opened him up to.

“When I went out looking for work I found there were a lot of options and many were ones I didn’t expect,” said Buchanan.

“I told the students that if you don’t know what you want to do yet, and you’re scared about it, start your undergrad and you’ll find your way.”

The MC for this year’s Biology Career Night was long-time VIU professor of biology, Dr. Tim Goater. He knows each of the students on stage, even the ones who graduated five and seven years ago. For him, having them come back and tell their stories is incredibly satisfying.

“The coolest part is I’ve seen them grow ever since they started in year one and now they are all in diverse careers that they love,” said Goater.

“If I was a student, teacher or parent in the audience watching them I would be so proud. And I think VIU can be proud that these graduates have gone on to such fulfilling careers.”

For more information about the VIU biology program email Erick Groot:


MEDIA CONTACT: Dane Gibson, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

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Tags: Student Success

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