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STEM Scholar Thought Engineering Would Become Her Career Path—Until She Found Biology

A Biology student posing in a biology lab

Sarah Kohler ’24 visited York College of Pennsylvania on a Legacy Day tour and knew it was the right place to start her education.

Sarah Kohler ’24 visited quite a few colleges her senior year of high school, but it wasn’t until she stepped onto the campus at York College of Pennsylvania that she knew she’d found the right one.

Growing up in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, her stepsister’s father was a graduate of York College, and Kohler was able to visit the campus for a Legacy Day tour. While she grappled a bit with choosing the right career path in high school, by the time she visited York College, she knew she wanted to pursue biology.

“I had seen a lot of colleges, but York College was the only one that showed me what I would be learning and how before I even enrolled,” Kohler says. “So many schools keep their lab tools under lock and key, but York College let us get up close during our tour.”

That experience set the tone for Kohler and made her certain that York College was the place she could grow.

A STEM Scholar

Kohler was always interested in the STEM fields, but she initially thought she’d jump into engineering. After a few exploratory classes in high school, she realized it wasn’t for her. Rather, Kohler’s advanced and AP biology courses opened the door to what work in a lab could offer.

“It was a much better fit for me,” she says, looking back. “I was excited at the potential of what this could offer me in a career.”

At York College, Kohler was accepted into the STEM Scholar program, where she has had opportunities to meet other students with interests in similar fields. While most people think all the STEM majors overlap, Kohler says she often approaches things a lot differently than students in other majors.

“Being able to interact together as STEM Scholars means we can learn from one another and see the value in those different approaches,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot from being able to relate to our challenging fields, while also seeing how we offer complementary skills.”

Exploring her opportunities

Just as taking different classes helped Kohler realize she wants to pursue biology instead of engineering, her York College courses are showing her the different opportunities she could have as a biologist.

From ecology to biochemistry and molecular biology, Kohler has discovered aspects of each one that interest her and help her explore her career potential.

“York College has given me a good opportunity to see what exists in my field,” she says. “I feel like when the time comes, I’ll be able to choose the best path for my career.”