Spring into Continuum

The spring edition of Continuum is out now. In it, you’ll find how U medical students are visiting remote schools to promote health as a career, tips for choosing a major, how dark skies are an untapped natural resource and about the U’s lacrosse team going to the big leagues.


RURAL ROOTS
U medical students visit remote high schools around the state to promote health care as a career.

When 15-year-old Kade Shumway Lyman told staff at San Juan High School that he wanted to be a doctor, their response was not the verbal high five he expected.

It had been 10 years since a student from the Blanding, Utah, high school had gone to medical school, they told him in 2004, and it was an expensive and demanding career. Consider podiatry or becoming a physician assistant instead, was their advice.

A small town midway between red-rock tourism mecca Moab and the desolate beauty of Monument Valley and the Navajo Nation territory, Blanding struggles with poverty and isolation. Teen Lyman had to drive 90 minutes to Cortez, Colorado, just to buy a pair of socks. While now, more than a decade on, there are a few shops, other issues remain the same: with no specialist care, a serious medical problem still requires an AirMed flight to the University of Utah.

Two years after Lyman shelved his physician plans, several University of Utah medical students visited Blanding to meet with juniors and seniors. They were volunteers with the Utah Rural Outreach Program (UROP), which recruits medical students to crisscross the state during the winter and spring breaks. Their mission is to address a long-standing dearth of doctors in rural counties by encouraging local high schoolers to consider the rewards of health care careers.

Read more about how the U is encouraging high school students in rural communities choose health as a career.


MAJOR DECISIONS
Tips for choosing a major and navigating the academic journey.

“What’s your major?” If there is a most frequently asked question among college students everywhere, this has to be it. It’s a simple enough inquiry yet can create a lot of angst. Teens today start getting pressure as early as junior high to think about what they want to study in college. Yet data shows that among high school students who note an intended major when they first take the SAT or ACT, more than half change their mind before applying to college. And after they get to campus, the majority of undergraduates change their major more than once.

“Every student’s journey is so different,” says Julia Vincent BS’13 MS’15, academic advisor and director of major exploration at the University of Utah. “Some students come to us very confident in their decision, some agonize over it, and some don’t stress enough.” Then there are those who get derailed trying to please others, realize late in the game that they dislike what they’re studying, or really just have no clue.

Yet the inevitable truth is that students must declare to graduate. And with 88 majors to choose from at the U, the choice can be daunting. Not to mention, there are a lot of misconceptions out there that only complicate things more. In an effort to make this decision process as successful as possible for everyone involved, this guide dispels common myths and shares experiences, trends, and advice from U academic advisors, career coaches, recruiters, students, and alumni.

Explore some of the major myths when it comes to selecting an education path, as well as advice for family and mentors of students, and some advice from alumni. 


DARK SKIES
Utah’s untapped natural resource.

On a moonless night in Bryce Canyon National Park, you feel like you can reach out and touch the universe. Above the iconic sandstone hoodoos, the Milky Way stretches across the sky, a celestial rainbow arching from horizon to horizon. Visitors from around the globe come to the park to view stars undimmed by artificial light. In a world where excess artificial light, or light pollution, obscures the Milky Way from nearly one-third of humanity, Utah’s night skies are a natural resource rarer than any mineral—and potentially worth much more.

Bryce Canyon is just one of many International Dark Sky Places—locales that make efforts to preserve dark skies and educate about their value—and Utah has more than any other state or even country besides the U.S. And preserving dark skies does more than improve star-gazing; visitors will spend nearly $2.5 billion to see dark skies in national parks in the Colorado Plateau between 2013 and 2023, based on current trends, according to a report from Missouri State University. Light pollution also impacts public health, destroys wildlife habitat, and costs taxpayers—the U.S. alone wastes billions annually on inefficient lighting systems.

Find out more about why Utah’s dark skies are a vital resource, as well as some of the effects light pollution can have on our health and how you can help.


CROSSE FIT
Utah lacrosse blazes a new trail as a Division I program.

Seth Neeleman feels like he’s been living out of his car the past two years. It’s a feeling the entire University of Utah men’s lacrosse team is familiar with. “We’d just pull up, put all of our gear on, and come to practice,” he says. “After, we’d have to pack all our stuff back in our cars and just leave it in there, then go home or try to find an open shower.”

As a club team, the lacrosse athletes haven’t had the amenities and assistance available to their peers sponsored at the NCAA level—like team locker rooms, for example. The players have been responsible for everything from buying their own equipment and uniforms to arranging their travel.

Neeleman embraced the personal sacrifices to play at a school he loves. He grew up in Connecticut and originally committed to play lax for Loyola Maryland. But after serving a two-year church mission, he decided to transfer to the U, a school where his uncle Danny Vranes ex’81 made a name for himself as a basketball star nearly four decades ago. Like many of his teammates, Neeleman came to the U with no promise of anything more than a club team. Yet here he is two years later forging new ground for U lacrosse as they join the ranks of NCAA Division I programs. The Utes began their inaugural NCAA season on February 1 when they opened to a crowd of more than 3,200 fans against Vermont in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Learn more about how the lacrosse team is building a program, changing their culture and getting on the map.