Jenny Kalman folds her hands in front of her as she matter-of-factly explains her academic goals, not to mention the clubs, jobs and sports she sinks her time,and teeth,into. Kalman, a biology major and chemistry and math double minor from Herndon, Va., plays pick-up soccer, is treasurer of the CIRCLE, works in the Chemistry Help Center and is co-president of the Biology Club. No problem adding a stack of graduate school applications to the melange.
Kalman is applying to several Ph.D. and master's of public health programs to study epidemiology and infectious diseases. "Ph.D. applications are usually due in December and January. But the M.P.H. programs, the applications aren't due until February or March. So I'm anticipating that it could possibly create a problem in which I find out about the Ph.D. programs before I find out about the M.P.H. programs and I have to make a decision to accept."
"But that's not the biggest problem," she confided, brushing blond hair away from her face. "The biggest problem is my long-term boyfriend." His name is Jason Beal, and they've been going out since the first week of freshman year. They live in adjacent singles in Coburn and studied abroad together in Ireland last year. "We're planning to get engaged in the next year and obviously we want to stay together. So, it's not just a matter of getting accepted somewhere and thinking, 'This school is good for me and they have what I want.' It's also, 'Can he go there also, or can he go to a school ten minutes away?' The problem is that we're both very focused on what we want to do. If you look at the magnitude of my desire to study infectious disease, it's matched by his desire to study human rights."
Not only are application deadlines sneaking up, but Kalman is frantically studying for the GRE in biology, an exam that will have a big impact on her future. "When I came here as a freshman, I thought I wanted to study wolves as a wildlife biologist," she said. "As passionate as I was about wolves, that's how I am now about infectious disease.
"I think it'd be really cool to be an investigator in disease outbreaks and have to identify what the pathogen is. Another thing would be working on vaccine development and biotic resistance. I want to help someone out. Which is counterintuitive for me because I think people are awful. When I wanted to study wolves, I was like, 'Yes! I don't want to have anything to do with people!' I don't know why that's changed. I think part of that might be my relationship with Jason. I do want to give back to the world because there's so much good in it, even along with the bad."