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Alumni Spotlight: Amanda Stewart

University of Northern Iowa Alumni of 2020

I was able to com­plete all four years of col­lege straight through with­out hav­ing to wor­ry about tak­ing time off to work to pay down stu­dent loans. I only worked part time to gain expe­ri­ence, which allowed me to make class­es my pri­or­i­ty. I was also able to spend time vol­un­teer­ing instead of work­ing because I was not stressed about my bills.

Cur­rent posi­tion:  Physi­cian Assis­tant Stu­dent, class of 2023 in the MSPAS Pro­gram at Des Moines Uni­ver­si­ty

Cur­rent city: : Vin­ton, Iowa 

What oppor­tu­ni­ties or expe­ri­ences have you been able to take part in that you might not have been able to with­out the schol­ar­ship?

Thanks to the schol­ar­ship, I was able to attend a four-year uni­ver­si­ty and live in the dorms on cam­pus, which had been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I was able to study abroad in Spain, where I improved my Span­ish and learned a lot about oth­er cul­tures. This over­seas expe­ri­ence would have been far too expen­sive with­out the schol­ar­ship.

The schol­ar­ship also allowed me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with a pro­fes­sor in the biol­o­gy depart­ment to com­plete a the­sis project on Iowa wood tur­tles. And, I par­tic­i­pat­ed in a med­ical mis­sion trip to Hon­duras, which was a valu­able expe­ri­ence.

More than any­thing, the schol­ar­ship gave me time. With­out hav­ing to work con­stant­ly to pay for tuition, hous­ing, food and books, I had time to pur­sue my inter­ests and tru­ly expe­ri­ence all that col­lege had to offer.

How did your col­lege expe­ri­ence pre­pare you for the post-col­lege work­force? In what ways were you unpre­pared?

I think the UNI biol­o­gy depart­ment did a great job prepar­ing me for the next step of my edu­ca­tion. My time work­ing in aca­d­e­m­ic advis­ing at UNI allowed me to devel­op my pro­fes­sion­al­ism, which is high­ly val­ued by physi­cian assis­tant (PA) pro­grams. My involve­ment with var­i­ous ser­vice groups taught me how to bal­ance school, work and vol­un­teer­ing, which was impor­tant once I start­ed in the grad­u­ate pro­gram at Des Moines Uni­ver­si­ty.

While the PA pro­gram is chal­leng­ing and dif­fi­cult to pre­pare for, I believe my under­grad­u­ate expe­ri­ence pro­vid­ed me with right mix of tools and expe­ri­ence to quick­ly adapt.

What was your expe­ri­ence inter­view­ing for your first job? Do you have any tips to share?

My first expe­ri­ence was inter­view­ing at Des Moines Uni­ver­si­ty for the PA pro­gram. To pre­pare, I par­tic­i­pat­ed in mock inter­views at UNI Career Ser­vices, which was very help­ful. I would rec­om­mend putting togeth­er a list of typ­i­cal inter­view ques­tions and think­ing about how you would answer them. Dress pro­fes­sion­al­ly for your inter­view and be pre­pared with a few ques­tions of your own.

Where are you now in your career? Where do you see your­self in five years? 10 years?

I am about to start my sec­ond year of the PA pro­gram, which focus­es on clin­i­cal rota­tions. In five years, I hope to be work­ing as a fam­i­ly med­i­cine PA in a small Iowa town. In 10 years, I hope to be work­ing in a dif­fer­ent spe­cial­ty in Iowa, con­tin­u­al­ly learn­ing new things and grow­ing as a health care provider.

What is one of your favorite col­lege mem­o­ries?

My favorite col­lege mem­o­ry was study­ing abroad in Spain. Grow­ing up, my fam­i­ly couldn’t afford to take vaca­tions, so my first time on a plane was when I trav­eled to Europe. One spe­cial mem­o­ry from Spain was a day trip I took to Llanes with my friend, Caitlin. We hiked a cou­ple of miles along a cliff next to the beau­ti­ful blue ocean. It was a per­fect day.

What’s a fun fact we should know about you?

I have a three-year-old ter­ri­er mix named Saffy.

Thanks for get­ting to know our schol­ars and alum­ni! Stayed tuned for more spot­lights and oth­er updates on our News & Events page, as well as oth­er updates!