Q: Hi! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your time at Alma College?
A: Hi! My name is Sasha Laykova and I graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree. I double-majored in chemistry and integrative physiology and health science (IPHS). I was born in Ternopil, Ukraine, but my family moved to the U.S. when I was a child and I went to Forest Hills Northern High School, outside of Grand Rapids. I am so pleased with my decision to attend Alma College, for so many reasons!
Q: That’s wonderful! Let’s start there. Why did you choose to come to Alma College in the first place? What were some of the most memorable experiences from your time at Alma?
A: I’ve played volleyball for most of my life, and when I was deciding where to go to college, athletics was a big part of that decision. Alma gave me an opportunity to play and I had a great time — I played all four years that I was a student. Through athletics, we also had lots of opportunities to interact with the community. I became involved with the local Big Brothers Big Sisters of America organization and that was a rewarding experience. I also got to go to a Cabo San Lucas, in Mexico, for Spring Term, where I studied the physics behind surfing. It was so interesting.
- Read more about the travel and cultural exploration that Spring Term at Alma College offers.
Q: Speaking of classes, let’s talk about your academic career at Alma. How did you progress in your studies as you went along? Do you think it prepared you well for graduate school?
A: When I first came to Alma, I knew that I loved chemistry, but I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do for a career. One of the great things about Alma is that there’s a lot of face-to-face interactions. You develop real relationships with people who have had interesting careers. That allows you to explore what your own future could look like.
For students who don’t know what their career path is, having those mentors is a huge help. At a smaller school, you might feel like you’re limiting yourself, but I think it’s the opposite. You can grow closer to people who have life experience and can guide you. That’s what Alma offers.
Q: Can you talk more about the relationships that are built here at Alma?
A: Absolutely. I think about faculty like Nancy and Joel Dopke, who went above and beyond to not only teach me, but to mentor me as well. They have stayed in touch since I graduated. Jeff Turk was a professor I had who was very fun, but also serious about helping students to learn. I think about my friends in chemistry and how we helped each other in class through the years. I also think about my friends in volleyball, who were some of the closest relationships I had at Alma.
Q: Where did life take you after you left Alma? What are you doing now? Do you enjoy it?
A: After I graduated from Alma, I went to the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine for med school. I thought my time at the college prepared me well for med school — and I know that Alma has done a lot to improve career mentoring since I graduated, which is amazing. I’m currently doing a residency in general surgery at Corewell Health in Grand Rapids. My hope when I finish residency is either continue practicing as a general surgeon or enter fellowship in a subspecialty of general surgery.
I really enjoy what I do! What could be more fun than operating? Medicine is always changing as research evolves, which felt daunting when I was younger, but now is exciting and offers the opportunity to continue growing and improving as a clinician. I like to do things with my hands and fix immediate problems, which is why I find surgery particularly interesting.