Carrie Ceh
ISC alumna Carrie Ceh currently a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Agriculture and Life Science studying rumen development in calves. She attrubutes finding her path to the confidence she gained exploring new ideas and experiences in the Integrated Science Curriculum.

Reflecting on the program . . .

What drew you to enrolling in ISC?

I was a senior in high school, so having Virginia Tech call my house and ask me to join this great program sounded like an awesome opportunity to me. One aspect of ISC they told me about on the phone was that the class sizes would be much smaller and that just seemed so much less overwhelming to me for my first year of college.

What was your major?


Were you able to integrate your interests and hobbies with your coursework?

Yes! I participated in multiple intramural sports and joined the pre-vet club (which consisted of me volunteering at different shelters). I also got an on-campus job starting my spring semester of my freshman year working in a research lab.

What about the program exceeded your expectations?

I was very impressed with how well the faculty from the COS reached out to the ISC. I would never have expected that I would have gotten to sit down with the dean at a Japanese steakhouse!

 What surprised you?

It really surprised me how many different professors from different specialties came in to teach our class. It was different from semester to semester sometimes!

There is definitely something to be said for having some of the best professors from each specialty in one classroom teaching your curriculum.

What was an ISC experience that really stands out for you?

I was asked to speak in front of President Sands when he was first starting his career at Virginia Tech to explain with a few other students what ISC was and why we had it at the school. It was really neat because President Sands is a huge advocate of the science side of things so he was very interested and asked a few questions.


The impact of ISC on post-graduation work and life . . . 

Tell us about what you have been up to since graduation.

I am currently a direct PhD student in the college of agriculture and life sciences working on a research project studying rumen development in calves.

In the past [before graduation, but after ISC] I worked as an undergrad in a dairy nutrition lab and have worked the past two summers doing related internships and the summer before studying abroad and working for the college of science upon returning.

Has your experience in ISC given you an advantage in the work you’ve done since graduating?

I think there are two big advantages that ISC has provided me with as I have graduated.

  1. Learning to approach professors and not be intimidated. In most cases they want to help you and enjoy talking with you, they also provide many good connections and resources.
  2. Understanding the big picture. What I mean by this is understanding how concepts relate and connect together instead of just learning how basic classes work on an individual basis. I applied this in every following class I took after ISC and it really helped me understand the overall message much better so I could further study details if necessary.

Was there a skill you learned in ISC that you found particularly useful to the work you do now?

As far as problem solving goes I think the group work involved in ISC really helped to see how many different perspectives there can be about solving an issue. This helped me to be more open minded and think outside of my comfort range to solve problems on a daily basis.

What kind of impact would you like to have on the world? How do you think ISC has helped you get closer to that goal?

I want to help people see the positive light in dairy farming and help connect the academic world with the farming world by working for a company that promotes farming products and services. I think ISC helped me reach this goal by starting off college with the attitude of ‘starting new experiences is good’. I had no idea what to expect about ISC but that’s really what life is all about. I had never stepped foot on a dairy farm before college and spent an entire summer working as a farm hand. I was able to do this partly because my confidence of stepping into new and uncomfortable ideas was much higher after the positive ISC experience. 

Would you recommend ISC to incoming freshmen?

I think if they definitely have a strong interest in science then yes!

Lastly, describe a favorite Hokie memory.

Some of my favorite memories were held at the old Virginia Tech dairy before it got moved 25 minutes down the road. I learned how to feed my first calf there and cared for 8 steers throughout 2 of my college years that became like my pets!

Anything you would like to add…

One piece of advice I would offer to incoming ISC students is that it will seem hard, uncomfortable, and tough at first. I will openly admit I cried about a month in to being enrolled to ISC because it was unlike anything I had done before, but sticking with it was the best decision I ever made in college.