Embracing Learning Opportunities – Samantha Duerring

On paper, Samantha (Sammie) Duerring, ’20, has accomplished a lot during her time at Meredith. Honors scholar, biology major, undergraduate researcher, peer tutor – these are just a few of her accolades.

What sets Sammie apart? She accomplished it all while blind.

According to her StrengthsFinderⓇ results, Sammie is a Learner: always embracing the opportunity to learn in as many mediums as she possibly can. This strength lent itself well to her undergraduate research on the perceptions of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on Meredith’s campus.

Aware of the many misconceptions surrounding them, Sammie conducted research to determine how a lack of education on GMOs plays a role in their perception. Her faculty advisor and thesis director, Karthik Aghoram, said her thesis on the research was “the most ready-to-submit thesis” he’s read in his entire teaching career.

Not only does Sammie enjoy learning herself, she enjoys helping others learn, too. She used this skill as a peer-tutor for Meredith’s learning center. “I am very proud of the opportunity to share my love of science with other students,” she said.

Sammie’s passions lie outside of writing papers and tutoring, though. Holding a human brain in her hands, dissecting the lens of a sheep’s eye, even performing a spinal tap – Sammie has taken advantage of these hands-on learning experiences just as much as any other pre-med student, not allowing her visual impairment to slow her down.

Eventually, Sammie plans to further her education by going to medical school and becoming a doctor. Though she isn’t quite sure what she wants to specialize in yet, psychiatry and pediatrics are a couple of the areas she’s considering. But first, she hopes to attend the Colorado Center for the Blind Independence Training Program for Adults, where she will learn to become even more self-sufficient in her everyday life.

Sammie credits her support system at Meredith for boosting her confidence in her ability to achieve her career goals. Specifically, she feels indebted to the staff of disability services and her advisor, Dr. Aghoram. “The professors and other staff members at Meredith are wonderful,” she said. “They see me as a successful student and not as a visually impaired individual.”

Another pillar of support for Sammie during her time at Meredith was her guide dog, Princess. The two of them became extremely well-loved among the Meredith community during their four years on campus together. “Princess and I will truly miss our Meredith family as we move on to the next chapter in our lives,” Sammie said.