Samantha (Sammie) Duerring, ’20, accomplished a lot at Meredith. Honors scholar, biology major, undergraduate researcher, peer tutor – these are just a few of her accolades.
What sets Duerring apart? She accomplished it all while blind.
According to her CliftonStrengths® results, Duerring 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 GMOs, Duerring conducted research to determine how a lack of education plays a role in their perception. Her faculty advisor and thesis director, Professor of Biological Sciences Karthik Aghoram, said her research was “the most ready-to-submit thesis” he’s read in his entire teaching career.
Not only does Duerring 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.
Duerring’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 – Duerring 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, Duerring 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.
Duerring credits her support system at Meredith, including Aghoram as her advisor and the disabilities services staff, for boosting her confidence in her ability to achieve her career goals.
“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 Duerring 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,” Duerring said.