Science and Friendship at Hillsdale College
A Spotlight on Matt Katz, ’17
Written by Sarah Chavey
“My mom was a Hillsdale biology major, my dad was a Hillsdale chemistry major, and they had me: a Hillsdale biochemistry major,” junior Matthew Katz said. Matt is beloved by his friends for his animated personality and friendly charisma, but he has also materialized into a leader and dedicated student. The president of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and a frequent volunteer in the Hillsdale Hospital emergency room, Matt plans to attend medical school, inspired partly by his work at the hospital.
“When I started going to the hospital and volunteering, I realized that I like spending time there and watching people be treated. I like playing a role in helping someone feel better,” Matt said. He is considering becoming either a pediatrician (because he’s always loved children) or an ER doctor.
“Being an ER doctor is not the same thing every day. It’s nice that you walk in and never know what you’re going to get. It might be a slow and easy night, or it might be a revolving door causing you to miss lunch and never get a break,” Matt said. He and his coworkers at the hospital joke that days after snowstorms and thunderstorms will always be busier.
Aware that ER doctors have a high burnout rate, Matt noted, “A lot of people come into the ER when they’re at their worst and need care. It’s hard to see people at their worst, and I can see how years and years of that could take a toll on you. But it’s nice to know that you’re helping people in that situation.”
A personable student, Matt wants to connect his research to humans. He is continuing research begun by senior Bailey Ray on the “Effects of Ethanol on Potassium Efflux in Chick Embryo Heart Tissue,” or, more simply, the effects of alcohol on the potassium level in chicks’ hearts. His interest began when Bailey was giving her presentation. Matt appreciated the link to human problems, but he also likes the fact-based aspect of science.
“I enjoy science because it’s so concrete. There’s one right answer, one right way to look at something. It teaches you so much about how the world works and how our bodies work.” And, like many other science majors, Matt looks back fondly at one of the courses that challenged him most: organic chemistry.
“It might not have been my favorite at the time, but looking back, my favorite science class here was organic chemistry. It was a beast. It took a lot of time and effort, but because I put so much into it, I was able to appreciate it more when it was over. It was actually fun.”
To his friends, Matt Katz has come to be an irreplaceable part of Hillsdale. As he noted, most of his friendships developed freshman year. Hillsdale’s small size and core requirements allowed him to form friendships with people entirely different than himself, and he sensed the community as a freshman—“I remember visiting here and feeling more comfortable and relaxed because of the sense of community”—but notices it mostly through the alumni.
“Hillsdale isn’t just four years,” Matt said. “It’s a part of you when you graduate, and for the rest of your life. You respond to the friendships and the knowledge you gain from here whether you like it or not.”
Sarah Chavey is a music major from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She hopes to pursue journalism when she graduates in 2017.