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.