Nick Arp ’18
Scholarship Day, Nov. 11, 2018

I found my passion, I reaffirmed my aspirations, and I established a solid foundation of friends and, I can happily say, family at Wartburg College. Today I would like to share with you how, now as a fourth-year, I accomplished this feat and how the college helped me succeed.

During my college search, Wartburg College was among three options I had been considering. I had no clue what I was doing in this process. What questions should I ask? What is a good fit for me? Where do I want to be for the next four years? What are good topics for small talk at luncheon tables? These questions made the college search difficult because I was the one who had to figure out these answers about myself and my choice. At the time, I knew I wanted to get involved in college through student organizations, get a great education through rigorous coursework, and prepare myself for the next steps in life.

In high school, I was involved in an organization called Dance Marathon, which supports children battling pediatric illnesses and injuries through philanthropic efforts. This was an organization I knew I wanted to continue while in college and to have it remain a core part of my life. In my college search, I discovered that Wartburg had a Dance Marathon program. 

Nick Arp Dance Marathon

So now fast forward, over the past three years, I have been heavily involved with Wartburg College Dance Marathon, Wartburg’s largest philanthropic student organization. Eventually my love for the organization led me into a leadership role as the Co-Executive Director in my third-year and again this year. Through this role, I work with Miracle Families and children who have, or had, suffered from pediatric illnesses and injuries. I have learned valuable skills in leadership and team management as I help lead a leadership team to strategize and implement fundraising and awareness events throughout the year. I am proud to say that WCDM has been ranked #7 nationally for amount raised per capita by Children’s Miracle Network as a result from our total last year of over $115,000 for the kids. To note, this past Thursday, WCDM completed our Fall Push Day, in which we raised over $28,000 in 26 hours, passing our initial goal of $26,000. This all contributes to our current year long goal of $130,000 by April. I work tireless on my free time for this organization and this movement, so it is evident that I got involved and found my passion here at Wartburg College.

I arrived at Wartburg College wanting to pursue my aspirations of becoming a physician. Part of why Dance Marathon is so important to me is that I acknowledge that I am an undergraduate student and not a physician yet. So, I thought to myself, “in what way could I make an impact on these patients’ lives while I am studying to eventually begin my training in medical school”? Dance Marathon became my outlet to express my passion for medicine and humanity. In each of these children’s stories, physicians diagnosed and provided treatment plans for these children. They were the playmakers in these children’s battles, which catapulted my aspirations to attend medical school.

Wartburg College is well-known for their pre-medical coursework and its acceptance rate into medical school appealed to me as I knew this was the institution that would guide me and help me achieve my goals. However, once I got into the coursework, I wanted to go deeper. It would be commonplace to find myself reading textbooks engulfed in the content transcribed from decades of scientific discoveries; however, I would always ask questions about why and how these mechanisms worked. This void was left unfilled until I grasped a pipette in the lab for the first time. As a second-year, I began working with Dr. Shawn Ellerbroek, Professor of Biochemistry, and conducted original biochemical research. I continued this research throughout my four-years here including a summer spent in the Carver Molecular Biology Laboratory over in the Science Center. The countless hours spent in the lab allowed me to get 1:1 mentorship from Dr. Ellerbroek. Through a lot of reflection and advising, I found that a career as a physician-scientist – one who bridges the clinical and scientific worlds together, was my calling.

I have been fortunate to experience the power of mentorship here at Wartburg. Dr. Ellerbroek encouraged me to apply to various summer research programs. He saw my passion and strengths as a scientist and he fully encouraged me to branch out. To my surprise, I was accepted into a 10-week, intensive research experience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA. I was placed in the lab of David Sabatini, a leader in the field of metabolism in relation to human diseases like diabetes and cancer. When I arrived to the lab, I was worried I would be behind and unaware about how to conduct cutting-edge research – but, I was greatly mistaken. There are numerous times throughout my experience in which my background, which was established here at Wartburg, provided a foundation to excel in an environment like MIT. My experience solidified my decision to attend Wartburg College because I was fully prepared to interact with and talk about science in an Ivy-League setting.

I can proudly say that I am at the point in my academic career in which I have applied to medical school and am currently interviewing for MD/PhD programs. I can confidently say that I would not be at this point in my academic career without the superb advising and mentorship that I have received through many of my professors like Dr. Ellerbroek, Dr. DeVries, Dr. Faidley, Drs. Zart, Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Toering-Peters. Yes – I consider all of these individuals my mentors and advisors through my four-years and the list would grow when including staff here at Wartburg like Tony Smith, Mallory Luensmann, Ashley Lang, and Lindsey Leonard. All of these individuals and many others here have definitely, as Wartburg’s mission statement states, challenged and nurtured me, while also reaffirming my abilities as a future physician-scientist and leader.

All while I was dedicating time for Dance Marathon and working in the lab, Wartburg College still continued to provide – and this time it was a group of friends and a family. This part usually is not considered in your college search, at least for me it was not a priority, but, in retrospect, it has become the most important part of my Wartburg experience. I was lucky to immediately connect with a group of 7 guys, who eventually became my roommates. This continued to branch into a larger family as our own respective families would come together regularly to watch football games and other events in which we all, or some, took part in. There are so many common threads within this group – we all study either biology or biochemistry, we all have aspirations of entering a health profession, and we all are dedicated to causes like Dance Marathon. The uncommon thread is that they are all football players, but I am the exception. They play football, I play science. Moreover, I could not imagine that I would find a place where I would find a group of people, now best friends, who all share a common goal in many facets, but I found this at Wartburg College.

If know your passion, or have yet to find it, Wartburg is a community to allow you to find it and own it. If you have aspirations in life, Wartburg has the resources and support to get you to your goals. If you are ready to make a myriad of memories with friends and add to your family – the Wartburg family, Wartburg College is the place for you – as it was for me.