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Mandee Schaub of New London knows firsthand just how debilitating migraine headaches can be. During her senior year in high school, she missed 100 out of 180 days because of them. She was often so weakened by pain that she spent much of her time in bed.

Schaub still deals with headaches but in most cases they aren’t severe enough to keep her out of action. What’s more, her time at Pfeiffer has emboldened her to come up with ways to help people who’ve suffered from migraines. She has pursued a Bachelor of Science in biology with a concentration in biomedical science. That’s a typical premed route, but in Schaub’s case, it has turned out to be a lot more:

After graduation, she plans to earn both a doctorate in neuropharmacology and a medical degree. The former will enhance her ability to research both the causes of migraines and the emerging medications for treating them. The latter will not only give her access to patients but also heighten the stature of the research she’ll do on their behalf.

“There are a lot of things we don’t know about migraines,” Schaub said. “I don’t want to do research for the money. I don’t want to do research because I want to develop drugs that are going to make somebody a lot of money. I want to find things that are going to help people like me because no one should have to go through the things that I went through.”

Schaub, then, is on an extraordinarily ambitious career path, one she would never have pursued without the support and opportunities that Pfeiffer has given her.

During her sophomore year, for example, she began researching “things I want to study for the rest of my life.” This resulted in an exploration of how various celebrities functioned in spite of their neurological disorders. The celebrities included Michael J. Fox, the actor, director, and producer; Charles Schulz, the late cartoonist famed for his creation of the “Peanuts” comic strip; and Mariah Carey, the singer, songwriter, record producer, actress and entrepreneur. 

Schaub thinks such a project would not have materialized at most other universities, where “they tell you what you have to research.” At Pfeiffer, by contrast, “I had access to professors who wanted to help. I was given a lot of freedom to do my own thing, to do whatever I felt passionate about.”

Schaub’s time at Pfeiffer has not been without its academic challenges. One of the most daunting emerged in a yearlong course she took on organic chemistry. Dr. David Cartrette, Schaub’s professor in organic chemistry, tutored her for two hours each week until everything finally clicked.

Cartrette (and other Pfeiffer professors) “have worked with us to teach us tactics to learn difficult subjects,” Schaub said. This means relying not on rote memorization of definitions but on discerning the big picture and how everything works together within it.

The bottom line: "No university could have prepared me more for what I'm going on to do that Pfeiffer did," Schaub said. "I'll be proud to say I'm a Pfeiffer grad." 

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