Feature Story

A New Degree of Excellence

August 7, 2018 – by Reilly Wright ’20

Derek Shank ’18 graduated with one of Ohio Wesleyan’s new Bachelor of Science degrees. Here, he discusses his Summer Science Research Program project during the annual fall symposium.

OWU’s New Bachelor of Science Recipients Ready to Begin Post-Graduate Studies

When 2018 Ohio Wesleyan University alumni Mary Cranley, Derek Shank, and Haley Talbot-Wendlandt begin graduate school this fall, they’ll take something with them that no other OWU student has ever had.

All three graduated with honors, but they also are the first students to be awarded Ohio Wesleyan Bachelor of Science degrees in the areas of microbiology, physics, and geology, respectively. OWU’s new Bachelor of Science degrees were announced in 2017 with the first recipients conferred in May.

“I hope one day to be a professor, so this B.S. definitely brings me at least one degree closer to my ultimate goal,” says Cranley, now a microbiology graduate student at The Ohio State University.

Cranley says she also takes with her skills gained from independent studies and research positions completed at Ohio Wesleyan – skills noticed by the graduate programs she pursued.

Mary Cranley ’18 earned an OWU Bachelor of Science degree this spring. Here, she explains the independent research she conducted during her time at Ohio Wesleyan.

“I also got to work closely with some amazing professors such as Dr. Gerald Goldstein and Dr. Suren Ambegaokar who have been great role models,” Cranley says. “I hope to teach, inspire, and mentor students as they have done for me these last four years.”

Talbot-Wendlandt, now a geology graduate student at the University of Maryland, says both OWU’s Bachelor of Arts and new Bachelor of Science degrees are rigorous and respected, but she chose the B.S. degree to succinctly showcase the professional-level work she completed in her undergraduate studies.

“I spoke with professors in the geology department, and they said that most [graduate] schools look at the classes prospective students took and the letters of recommendation, so having a B.A. rather than a B.S. wouldn’t make me less qualified or ready for grad school,” Talbot-Wendlandt says. Nevertheless, she notes, employers sometimes require a B.S. as a qualification to weed out applicants.

Haley Talbot-Wendlandt ’18 was one of three graduates to earn an OWU Bachelor of Science degree in May. Here, she uses an OWU Experience grant to travel to Iceland to explore in effects of climate change and tourism on the natural landscape.

Pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree can enable students to dive a bit more deeply into their major field through a combination of additional required affiliate courses, additional courses in their chosen field, and/or other academic opportunities selected by faculty members to compliment their interests and goals.

Shank says he thinks the Bachelor of Science degree helped him to stand out more on graduate school applications, and he’s pleased it was available to him at Ohio Wesleyan.

“If you have the option of choosing a B.S. over a B.A. then you will be that much more competitive wherever you apply after undergrad,” says Shank, now a physics graduate student at the University of Notre Dame.

Both Cranley and Talbot-Wendlandt also advise any interested B.S. candidates to consider their goals post-graduation: further education or an immediate career, and have a conversation with professors in their field.

“Overall, I think that pursuing a B.S. rather than a B.A. can only help your prospects of getting a job or going to grad school in a scientific field,” Talbot-Wendlandt says, “so I would recommend going for the B.S. if you’re passionate about science and want to pursue it as a career.”

Ohio Wesleyan also offers a Bachelor of Science degree in astrophysics, and additional majors are anticipated to be added to the degree offering over time. Overall, the University confers four types of undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Fine Arts, Music and Science.

Learn more about OWU academics at www.owu.edu/academics.