Honor student with heart

2011-10-09T05:00:00Z Honor student with heartRobyn Martin Arizona Daily Sun
October 09, 2011 5:00 am  • 

Stellar NAU student's love of animals and learning contributes to her academic success.

By Robyn Martin

Special to the Daily Sun

Heart and intellect: Two essential qualities necessary for academic success. As students flow back to Northern Arizona University's Flagstaff campus this semester, one student, senior Callie Davis, has taken these qualities to a higher level and will use them to serve her local and global communities when she graduates in May.

Davis was born in San Antonio but moved to Flagstaff when she was 4. She graduated from Flagstaff High School and is double-majoring in Spanish and biomedical science. She's also a student in NAU's Honors community.

Davis was drawn to NAU's Honors program because of its reputation for smaller, more intimate classes in a still-rigorous academic setting. "I wanted to be educated, and not just get a degree," she said. "Honors students seem to care about learning; Honors program instructors really want to teach."

She also chose NAU in particular because of its friendly atmosphere, its diverse student body and the unique perspectives offered because of that diversity.

Her double-major reflects Davis' qualities of heart and intellect. She plans to use her biomedical background to further her research in the area of veterinary science. An accomplished equestrian since the age of 10, Davis is interested in the use of stem cells to treat riding injuries in horses; she researched and presented a paper on the treatment as an undergraduate during NAU's 2010 Undergraduate Symposium.

She's always had a love of animals, and explains she's dedicated to making their lives better in the future. "These days, our pets are important family members," she said. "They deserve to live a long, healthy high-quality life." She hopes to become an advocate for animals through her research. Veterinary research can also lead to better medical treatment for humans, Davis said, so this research not only carries a practical benefit for pets but ultimately holds promise for a healthier life for their owners.

Equestrian stem cell injections in particular have a successful return rate, according to Davis, who says, "injections are used for joint disease, ligament and tendon injuries. The percentage of horses returning to prior work level is fairly high, so the probability of a competitive horse returning to work is high. Another plus is that is adult stem cells come from the animal itself, so no other animals are hurt in this process (or any embryos for that matter). These adult stem cells come from the animal's fat cells from the top of the hindquarters and are injected into injured tissue, with a short recovery time for an outpatient operation."

The one downside is the cost, Davis cautions; it ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 for the initial treatment. Usually just one injection is enough although sometimes up to four doses are necessary, but according to Davis, "the payoff is enormous: a successful treatment, a ride-able horse and a high quality of life for the animal." The science behind this treatment, says Davis, also leads to possible use in humans for arthritis and ligament and tendon injuries, another bonus.

Her Spanish language background will also be valuable in the future. She is a successful Spanish immersion student, having studied abroad two semesters -- first in Mexico in the spring of 2009, then in Spain during the 2010 fall semester. She would like to remain in the Southwest after completing her postgraduate work with the hopes of working professionally in Flagstaff. Being able to communicate with those residents whose first language is not English will allow her to help more people in need.

Davis has been working all summer as an intern for W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. This internship has provided Davis with a better understanding of how research, discovery and application are shared synergistically. At Gore, her research focused on protein analysis and identifying different proteins. This work is especially important, Davis said, "because it can ultimately lead to improving our circulatory health." This year, Davis also will be working under the supervision of NAU biology professor Steven Hempleman, studying avian physiology. The research, she said, can lead to better understanding and treatment of respiratory illnesses, since the birds are a used as a model for human bodily processes.

"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible," writes Arthur C. Clarke, scientist and science fiction writer. Clarke's words mirror Davis' dedication to education and her thoughtful, giving nature and Davis is poised, come May 2012, to make a positive difference in both animal and human life in the future.

Graduating with honors requirements

Students must first be admitted to the NAU Honors program (composite ACT score of 29, combined math/reading SAT score of 1290, or top 5 percent of high school class; or with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 through a minimum number of NAU or transfer credits; or through a petition.) About 650 to 700 students are in the enrichment program.

Once they're in, students must do the following to graduate "with honors:"

1) Complete the following foundational courses:

-- one Honors first year seminar in critical reading and writing

-- one mathematics foundation course at the precalculus level or higher

-- complete calculus II OR demonstrate proficiency in a second language through the first year (102 level)

2) Have 28 hours of liberal studies course work distributed in the following way:

-- one Lab Science class

-- two Aesthetic and Humanistic Inquiry classes

-- Two of these requirements must be fulfilled with an Honors Seminar AND an Honors Advanced Seminar.

-- one Science/Applied Science class

-- two Social and Political Worlds classes

-- one additional class from one of the above categories

3) Two of these requirements must be fulfilled with an Honors Topics Seminar AND an Honors Advanced Seminar.

4) Honors Pathways: Five non-credit bearing "Pathway Experiences" must be completed prior to graduation.

5) Honors Capstone Experience

6) Complete at least 21 Honors units, and maintain a 3.5 cumulative NAU GPA


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