Like many college-bound high school seniors, Michelle Hetson wanted the whole campus experience, and that included living away from home.
Or, so she thought.
"I was interested in engineering and I came for a visit to The University of Akron," says Hetson, who grew up in nearby Green and graduated from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron. "I was so impressed, I didn’t care that the University was in my backyard."
After arriving at UA, she quickly focused on biomedical engineering. "I knew I wanted to major in engineering, because it combines math and science," says Hetson. "Biomedical engineering is perfect for me because I am also very interested in health care."
Now the honors student will receive a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, summa cum laude at the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 11. Hetson has been chosen to speak on behalf of the Summer 2012 Class as the student responder at the ceremony.
During her years at UA, Hetson balanced her studies with a variety of activities on and off campus.
A member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, she served as co-president this past year. She also was a peer mentor in the Honors College for four years. And for three of her college years, she was a member of UA's Western Equestrian Team.
"Being on the team was a wonderful experience," says Hetson. "It was something that I felt comfortable doing — I have three horses of my own — but it also was a different kind of a challenge. You don't have to own a horse to be on the team. The horses are provided at each event by the competition host, and the first time you ride the horse is when you are in the show ring."
Hetson, who is graduating with a 3.988 GPA, has received several scholarships and awards, including the Outstanding Undergraduate Award in Biomedical Engineering, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society member, Golden Key International Honor Society, The University of Akron Scholarship for Excellence and the Donald R. Burrowbridge Award for Outstanding Performance in Cooperative Engineering Education.
After working as a research assistant in the Fetal Treatment Center of Northeast Ohio at Akron Children's Hospital early in her college career, Hetson had three cooperative education assignments at DePuy Orthopaedics in Warsaw, Ind.
"It's funny, because as much as I wanted to leave home for college, it was just the opposite when it came time for a co-op. I didn't want to leave home," says Hetson. "But the time at DePuy was just the best experience. I designed knee, hip and ankle implants for specific patients. I was able to integrate what I was learning in the classroom with my work experience and I am much better prepared for that first real job," says Hetson, who wants to work in industry, hopefully within the health care field.
Her advice to incoming freshmen?
"Don't limit yourself," says Hetson. "UA has a lot to offer and you should take the time early on to check out all the opportunities to see what interests you."