by Jerri Whitner, Student Contributor
A Junior Biology (Pre-Med) major at Alice Lloyd College, Thomas Case, has always aspired to do two things, to be a scientist and a movie director. Although he decided science was the better path for him to take he has not given up his passion for movies. In more ways than one, ALC has fanned the enthusiastic flames of Thomas’ goals and directed him toward his purpose filled path.
Thomas is from Garrett, Kentucky, where he graduated Valedictorian from Allen Central High School in 2015. He actively participated in many clubs and organizations in high school. Thomas was the President of the Beta Club and the Hispanic Honor Society, and he was also a member of the Kentucky Youth Association (KYA). Through KYA, Thomas, along with some of his peers, was able to pass a bill that extended benefits of the Wounded Warrior Project to every service member and veteran in the state of Kentucky. Other high school organizations that Thomas was a part of were the Zoology Club, the prestigious Governor’s Scholar Program, and the Hugh O’Brien Leadership Program. For some families, having a child that wants to be a part of so many organizations can be an overwhelming challenge, but Thomas has always had the full support of his family. He says, “Anything I have wanted to do my parents, Jerry and Charlotte Case, have supported me in it.”
With his family’s encouragement, Thomas was able to make the crucial decision of which college he should attend. Thomas had many options, but the factors that led him to Alice Lloyd College was the college’s close proximity to his home and the chance of obtaining the Presidential Scholarship. The Presidential Scholarship is given to a limited number of incoming students every year and guarantees tuition, room, board, fees, and books to outstanding scholars. In addition, continued assistance throughout graduate and/or professional school may also be available. Thomas applied and received the blessing of this generous scholarship which encouraged him, along with ALC’s one of a kind Graduate Assistant Program, to finalize his decision of joining the Eagle family. From his first day on campus, Thomas knew that he had made the right decision. He quickly realized his favorite part ALC was that “Everyone is so nice and in my experience, the professors are always cheering you on.”
In addition to academics, all full-time students are required to participate in the ALC Student Work Program, and Thomas has found his to be extremely enjoyable. Thomas’ work study assignment is in The June Buchannan School office, a private K-12 institution located on the ALC campus, where he tutors students and helps run the main office. Running a school office is a place that Thomas never expected to be, but he loves the vital skills that he is developing because he knows that it will help him with his desired career. Thomas is gaining work experience by tending to the different needs of everyone he comes in contact with and learning how to manage an office. Along with Thomas’ work study, he is actively involved in numerous clubs and organizations such as the Allied Health Club, Impact Club, Voices of Appalachia, the secretary of the Green Team, Treasurer of the ALC Theatre Club, and the Casting Director of the Film Club.
Outside of Thomas’ busy and demanding school schedule, he finds opportunities to help his local community by volunteering at his church, Hueysville Church of Christ. Thomas is the Audio-Visual Technician at his church, giving him the responsibility of recording sermons and broadcasting them on the local TV channel. The volunteer position at the church is one that Thomas has held for many years, and the position allows for him to exercise his knowledge and love for film and movies.
Thomas knew what he wanted to do before he came to ALC, and because of the excellent support that the professors have given him, he has become more confident in his goal of being a Dermatologist. This decision is in part the result of an issue that has weighed heavily on Thomas’ heart for some time, the deficiency in the variety of dermatologists located in the Eastern Kentucky region. Thomas describes the issue by saying, “There are two in Pikeville and one in Lexington. I always thought that it was unfair people in my county had to drive so far away for such an important service.” Aware of the need in Eastern Kentucky, Thomas plans to start a Dermatology clinic that will benefit many in his region.
Thomas has been given the opportunity to expand his knowledge this summer through an Undergraduate Summer Biomedical Research Program. The program was recommended to Thomas by Jacob Sifers, a Senior Biology (Pre-Med) major with a Chemistry minor at Alice Lloyd College. Jacob participated in the program in 2015 and expressed to Thomas the enjoyable experience that the program gave him. Thanks to Dr. Janelle Pryor, a Professor of Biology at Alice Lloyd College, who wrote Thomas a generous letter of recommendation, he will be able to attend the Undergraduate Biomedical Research Program for ten weeks this summer. Thomas will either be staying on the campus of the University of Louisville or the University of Kentucky where he will attend classes, do research in a lab, and learn from a mentor. Thomas is excited for the program to start and even though he does not know what research topic will be assigned to him he hopes that it has something to do with either skin cancer, pathogens, or disease. At the end of the program, Thomas will present the findings of his research at a scientific conference and his outcomes will be published in a scientific journal.
What began as a simple dream of becoming a scientist has turned into a reality for Thomas. The assistance that he has received on the campus of ALC has reassured him that becoming a Dermatologist is one of his purposes in life. Thomas’ walk down the Purpose Road is far from complete and the ALC community is blessed to take a small part in his journey.