Q: Welcome! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your time at Alma College?
A: Hi! My name is Gabby Blecke and I graduated with the Class of 2021 with a Bachelor of Science degree in integrative physiology and health science (IPHS). While I was at Alma, I was a member of the choir and other student organizations. I’m currently in my third year at the University of South Dakota, where I’m pursuing a doctorate degree in occupational therapy. It’s my goal someday to work in a hospital as an occupational therapist!
Q: I understand you have forged some lifelong friendships and relationships at Alma College. Could you talk about that?
A: Yes! I met my fiance at Alma College. His name is Andrew Wiegand and he graduated in 2020. We met while on tour with the choir — we are one of many, many couples who have met through the choir. The retired director of the choir, the legendary Will “Doc” Nichols, will actually be officiating our wedding. I think it’s an example of the lifelong friendships and relationships that students can make at Alma College.
Q: What was your relationship with faculty like as you pursued your studies at Alma?
A: The faculty in the IPHS department have helped me out in so many ways, both during my time at the college and since then. Brianna Harfmann has remained a close friend since I’ve graduated. Dr. Harfmann gave me a ton of 1:1 time — not only to make sure that I understood the material she was teaching in class, but also to figure out things like my schedule. She would come into the office on weekends so that I could do my senior thesis research. She would go to my choir concerts and helped me apply to graduate school. I can’t say enough good things about her.
- Read more about what our Pre-Health faculty and staff at Alma College do to ensure students get what they need to be successful in grad school and beyond.
Q: Did your education at Alma College adequately prepare you for what was to come at graduate school? How so?
A: Absolutely. The sheer rigor of Alma’s academic programs does an exceptional job of preparing you for grad school. When I went from high school to college, it felt like whiplash — in the best way! I wasn’t able to just memorize and regurgitate information any more. I spent so much time thinking about how to become a successful student as opposed to just learning what I needed to know for the test. I learned how to learn when I came here and that is the best kind of education. When I got to grad school, the workload didn’t feel shocking at all.
I also felt like Alma College did a great job of preparing me in terms of material. My first year at grad school almost felt like a review of what I had learned during undergrad.
Q: How did your time at Alma College prepare you for life in general, as opposed to simply academics?
A: Alma talks a lot about how they teach the whole person — as opposed to simply preparing you for a job — and that was absolutely my experience. Like a lot of students, I was involved in many clubs and organizations, so I learned a lot about time management and how to maximize my productivity. I was a resident assistant and picked up a lot of leadership skills along the way. I think that being at a small school taught me a lot about the value of diversity and inclusion — we all get to know each other pretty well, and we want to have a good time while we’re here.
Q: How do you stay connected to Alma College? Why is it important to you to do so?
A: There are many ways that my fiance and I stay connected, but we always make it a point to come back during Homecoming. I think it’s a lot about the community of support we built up while we were here. These are our friends for life, as well as people who have helped us in our careers. We’re very grateful to have had experienced this place.