For Carly Fellion ’17 of Agawam, having to switch colleges and majors were just two bumps on the road getting her to where she needed to be: at Elms College, as a biology major with a concentration in premedical studies and a minor in bioethics.

Carly Fellion '17

Carly Fellion '17, a biology major with a concentration in premedical studies and a minor in bioethics, works in the lab.

Bumps in Road Lead to Biology Major

For Carly Fellion ’17 of Agawam, having to switch colleges and majors were just two bumps on the road getting her to where she needed to be: at Elms College, as a biology major with a concentration in premedical studies and a minor in bioethics.

Carly began her freshman year as an exercise science major at Lasell College in Newton, MA, thinking she would pursue a career as an occupational therapist, but “I just wasn’t happy,” she said. “So I decided to save my money, move back home, and commute to school, and the money that I would’ve used to live away, that’s going to go toward PA (physician’s assistant) school” after graduation.

So she transferred to Elms, thinking the nursing program would be the place for her. That, too, turned out to be another bump on the road. Although her stellar grades (she had a 3.96 GPA when she transferred) ensured her acceptance into the program, as a transfer student she was waitlisted for a spot. Although first on the waitlist, a spot never became available, so Carly had to consider another major.

“I thought the next best thing for me would be biology,” Carly said, “because I know what I’m doing, I could do the pre-med stuff, and, if for some reason I don’t get into PA school, I’d come back here for the post-bachelor’s 20-month nursing program.”

She was pleasantly surprised to discover that, not only did she enjoy biology, but she was good at it.

“I thought maybe I’d just do this for a year and then apply to the nursing program for the next year,” she said. “I ended up realizing that I enjoyed the program so much more than I thought I was going to.”

She also enjoys the fact that, with biology, “I have more of an option for my career, and I think that’s something that makes me feel a little more comfortable, knowing that if I don’t like one thing, I can move my interest over to something else.”

She is also enjoying the classes for her minor in bioethics.

“I love it, it’s taught me so much,” she said. “Academically, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

Carly is a teacher’s assistant for Dr. Nina Theis in General Biology this semester, and is writing a research paper for Dr. Janet Williams on human-canine interactions (Carly’s a big-time dog lover, starting with her cocker spaniel, Teddy), but she doesn’t expect to make biology her career.

She volunteers in the emergency room at Baystate Medical four hours a week, and will concentrate on getting her CNA license during winter break. Having that license will allow her to be a patient care assistant, which will help Carly position herself more competitively when applying to PA schools.

Her future plans include taking a gap year between graduation and applying to local PA schools, such as the programs at Springfield College, Bay Path University and Westfield State University. After graduating from PA school, she hopes to work in a hospital or primary care practice.