Considering a career in anesthesiology, Olivia Wright did her due diligence as a high school student. Before graduating from Claremore, Okla., she spent time researching biology and pre-medicine programs by speaking with college graduates who had gone through them.
That was when she met a Pittsburg State University graduate now studying medicine at Oklahoma State University - and heard rave reviews about the offerings at Pitt State.
"I had been accepted into schools on the east coast, but as soon as I heard about PSU and the unique opportunities students have to do hands-on work, I knew I wanted to go here," said Wright, now a sophomore.
One of those opportunities was to be part of an annual medical trip students organize and take to Central and South America. For four years, the PSU biology program has helped groups of students study abroad in Peru and Belize, where they have worked with the agency Pro World to provide medical and dental services to natives with little or no access to health care.
Not only do students travel to remote areas of those countries to participate in basic medical care, they also raise the money and locate donated supplies for the trip. Next year's trip will take 15 students to Peru from May 21-31.
Her experience learning about medicine in Belize - as well as the chance to work in a community clinic such as the one staffed by PSU students in Pittsburg - are opportunities Wright believes she'd never have as an undergraduate anywhere else.
"There are so many things here that just aren't offered at other schools," she said. "In this program, you can really be one-on-one with professors and feel challenged."