Alumna outlines the importance of liberal arts in the field of science
Bluffton University has changed significantly since Dr. Christina Sherry, medical science liaison at Abbott Nutrition in Columbus, Ohio, graduated in 2004. She came while the school was still known as Bluffton College, the internet was provided through a dial-up connection and cell phones were increasingly becoming popular, but the skills she gained at Bluffton are timeless.
Sherry explained how a liberal arts education improves a STEM career during her March 21 Alumni Forum, “The Art of Practicing Science.” A dietetics major at Bluffton, she shared how communication and creativity are vital for success in the science field.
“A liberal arts education really helps you to think outside of the box when you are faced with scientific struggles,” said Sherry. “It helps you to communicate to numerous different audiences that you may have to help them understand scientific findings. A liberal arts background gives you the ability to think in different ways.”
She has used the skills developed at Bluffton to land placements, positions and promotions throughout her career.
“When I left Bluffton, I applied to PhD programs at Big 10 schools. I developed a portfolio as part of my senior seminar class at Bluffton and tried to make myself stand out. At the time, I put my portfolio on a CD and mailed it by snail mail to prospective PhD advisors.”
Sherry explained her work ethic and attitude stood out to a professor who received her portfolio, and she was accepted to The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) where she earned her Ph.D. in nutrition science.
“I highlighted the advantages of going to a smaller school. I had experience going into hospitals, and I had a close relationship with professors and was able to get good recommendation letters,” said Sherry.
As a National Institutes of Health post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, Sherry leveraged contacts she had garnered as a student at UIUC to land her first position at Abbott in 2010.
Sherry’s early work included helping develop nutritional supplements for expectant moms and advancements in Similac infant formulas. She has published 11 peer-reviewed articles, holds two patents and is a regular speaker at national and international conferences.
At Abbott, she remains as committed to service as she was on campus. She is part of Women Leaders of Abbott, the Way of Working (WoW) team and the Abbott Idea Club. As a student she was involved in PALS, Marbeck Center Board and the Family and Consumer Science Student Association.
A native of Grand Blanc, Mich., Sherry chose Bluffton because it was a small, liberal arts college that offered an accredited dietetics program. “I received a pamphlet in the mail that listed all of the schools that had programs that were approved, and after coming to visit, I just felt home. I felt like I could see myself here.”
As an alumni, she provided advice to current students.
“If I could go back, I would tell myself to slow down and take in more of what’s going on around me (which I am still trying to do today),” said Sherry. “Try not to focus solely on your grades, which I know some people will cringe to hear, but it’s really about the holistic picture. Round yourself out with opportunities above and beyond your degree.”
“A liberal arts education really helps you to think outside of the box when you are faced with scientific struggles."