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Student Feature: Luke Beyeler

“Step back, take some deep breaths, and remember that you want to do well and have a future in the industry.” As a sophomore at Blue Ridge Community College, Luke Beyeler is determined to achieve his goals and is confident in his path forward in the field of biotechnology.

Since enrolling at BRCC, Luke has participated in the BRCC to James Madison University (JMU) to Merck pipeline program. This collaboration between BRCC and JMU allows students to transfer from Blue Ridge into the biotechnology program at JMU, in hopes of also earning internship opportunities at the Merck facility in Elkton, Virginia.

“For the most part it has been very straightforward,” said Luke. “I know what classes will transfer to JMU and coordinated with the transfer advisors here at BRCC to make certain that I fulfill all the requirements for the guaranteed admissions agreement.”

He describes one of the key program benefits as being able to know what classes are necessary to achieve guaranteed admission to the exact major he plans to enroll in at JMU. Early in his studies at BRCC, Luke met with Kathleen Gass, the Merck Liaison to BRCC, to discuss his experience with the pipeline and was offered a teaching assistant role within the biomanufacturing camp hosted at BRCC. He contacted Dr. Reid Harris, instructor for the camp, and agreed to help with the high school students participating in the camp this summer.

Luke gained hands-on experience by preparing materials and equipment, as well as assisting students with any questions, which allowed Dr. Harris to focus on instruction.

After completing his general education requirements and associate’s degree at BRCC, Luke will transfer to JMU. After graduating from JMU, he plans to work in the lab setting at the Merck facility in Elkton, specifically in process development.

“The path forward has been cleared of confusion or distractions. I know exactly what and how to achieve my goals, now I only must focus on putting in the effort,” said Luke.

As for the students who are thinking of participating in the BRCC to JMU to Merck pipeline program, Luke offered his advice.

“Make sure you know how to read a lab procedure and interpret it from the instructor’s point of view,” explained Luke. “Also understanding the terminology for equipment will significantly reduce the stress of the lab environment. Try to spread out the physics, biology, and chemistry classes you will have to take. Whenever I took several of those classes at the same time, I did not have the mental energy or the study hours to fully assimilate the information. I only had enough time to cram the knowledge in and complete the course.”

Overall, Luke details his experience at BRCC as “scholastically phenomenal.” He credits the majority of his professors as being professional and engaging and appreciates how easy it is to use the electronic resources provided for students. He’s looking forward to his studies and the career path that lies ahead.

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