Andrew Branson (Class of 2023)

photo of Andrew Branson

  • sophomore major in Biology, with a Premedical Studies co-major
  • from Tiffin, OH
  • member of Miami's medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon
  • recipient of the Chick Evans Scholarship
  • emergency medical technician; basic life support instructor (American Heart Association)
  • interned in cardiac unit and emergency room at Mercy Health of Tiffin; worked in a COVID-19 unit performing COVID-19 testing (January 2021)
"It's okay to not be sure about what you want to do. It's okay if you want to be a biology major, but it's also okay if you decide to change a semester or years later. That's a part of growing. If you decide that you don't like something, change! It's your life to be had."

Why Miami?

"Miami was actually one of my number-one choices, but financially it probably wouldn't have been possible without the Chick Evans Scholarship. This scholarship, named in honor of the golfer Chick Evans, offers a full ride plus housing through the Western Golf Association.

"The story behind this scholarship is that Chick Evans was an amateur golfer who won the US Open twice. He wanted to keep his amateur status, so he said, 'I'm going to take this money and send both of my caddies to college.' He completely financed their college education. Now, millions of people throughout the U.S. and all over the world donate to the Western Golf Association to send caddies like myself to college for free.

"Coming to Miami, I wasn't sure how I would fit in as a first-generation college student. However, the orientation process just immediately made it feel like home, and there were so many activities to be involved in. I became a member of the pre-medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon, which has given me a family here at Miami."

Best Miami Experiences

Andrew Branson checking some of the EMT's monitoring equipment

"Being a first-generation college student, I had no idea what to expect at Miami. The classes were really challenging, much different from my high school. I was used to walking into class without studying for anything and passing with flying colors, so I finally felt like I was challenged. However, I had help from professors, from friends, and from tutoring at the Rinella Learning Center, all of which helped me to excel and find myself as a student. It's been an amazing first two years, and it will get even better once the pandemic is over!

"My professors take so much time to answer questions and will do anything to help you out. The biology labs in Pearson Hall are state-of-the-art. Undergrads can get hands-on research opportunities that are not available elsewhere, and the connections that you can make are just amazing.

"I started my first year living in the Evans Scholarship house with other freshmen. We were all excited to meet new people and learn more about each other. Mega Fair was my first major opportunity to get out, go explore, and maybe join a club. The point of Mega Fair is that you can join a club, and if you don't like it you can do something else — but you may actually come to love it. It's a great showcase of everything that Miami has to offer: the clubs, the different intramural sports, and much more. Miami encourages students to get involved in other things to really meet new people and have different experiences.

"I had an opportunity this past J-Term to work in a COVID-19 unit doing testing for Mercy Health of Tiffin. This experience has enabled me the opportunity to be inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).

"I always wanted to do something in medicine, and so during my junior year of high school I got my certification as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and fell in love with the idea of helping people. It wasn't until probably my first year of college that I really found how my love of science and for humanity could really go together through medicine. I wanted to study biology and go into medicine, but I think that my Miami experiences really solidified the reasons why."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"I'm a biology major, but having to dive deep into other material, such as how the foundation of chemistry relates to biology or how I can apply a philosophy course to medicine demonstrates to me how the liberal arts work. Everything seems to combine in a way that I can take my learnings and apply them to my major and career goals.

"I describe most of my days as rigorous. Biology majors spend a lot of hours studying, plus I spend 4 hours in a lab working on lab experiments, plus another 12 hours doing the work for it! It's not just memorizing material — it's about learning the material and applying it, and that's the big difference for me from high school.

"College is really about building on the things that you learn. It's how for me BIO 115 led to BIO 116, which led to BIO 203 and BIO 206 and so on. You're not just learning something to forget about a week later; you're learning about how to use and apply something later in life."

Medical Experiences Outside of the Classroom

Andrew Branson in a Flight for Life helicopter

"Joining Phi Delta Epsilon, Miami's only premedical fraternity, gave me the opportunity to listen to different physicians speak about their experiences. This gave me a lot of in-depth understanding about how to pay for medical school and consider my next steps in life. When you see Miami's high rates of acceptance into medical school and Miami's hands-on learning, it's clear that Miami offers so many different learning experiences that anybody can take advantage of.

"When I learned how to be an EMT, the procedure was basically, 'You see this sign, you see this symptom, and this is how you treat it.' However, now with my biology major, I've been learning about all these things on a more metabolic and physiological level.

"My freshman year I got offered an internship at Mercy Health of Tiffin working in the cardiac unit, emergency medicine and observing orthopedic surgery. My job was to observe patient care roles, watch physicians provide care, and then work with doctors, nurses, and physician assistants to understand different treatment options for patients. This was a unique opportunity that I feel most students at other universities wouldn’t have, since the internship didn't exist until I went through it.

"Through my internship at Mercy Health of Tiffin, I got to work all day with doctors and see patients. The doctors actually took the time for me to explain how biology relates to day-to-day healthcare, and it was fun to listen to them explain one thing and then apply specific steps within biology, within the chemistry of medicine, and to everything I was learning.

"All in all, I feel that Miami has prepared me to do well on the MCAT exam for medical school, and I hopefully will stay in the Ohio area, possibly to practice emergency medicine."

Advice to Students

"It's okay to try something and not like it, but you'll never get the true experience of life unless you do it. Whether it's joining a new club, taking an ice-skating class, or doing anything else beyond your major, there is always something to learn and an experience to be had. You just have to get out of your shell to experience these things.

"It's also okay to not be sure about what you want to do. It's okay if you want to be a biology major, but it's also okay if you decide to change a semester or years later. That's a part of growing. If you decide that you don't like something, change! It's your life to be had. At the same time, however, I would tell someone to be prepared to put in the work. Just know you will get something out of it in the future!"

[March 2021]