Haley Dahlhoff, a 2015 graduate of Anacoco High School, will graduate from Northwestern State University today with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and Microbiology.

She has worked hard to maintain a 4.0 GPA all through college and was on track to graduate in her third year. But she realized she was in no rush to graduate that fast, so she slowed down.

Her final year was quickly approaching and she needed to plan her next move. She thought she wanted to go to medical school so she took the MCAT. Then when it came time to apply to colleges, she realized she really didn’t want to do that. Which in turn really upset her mom. Her parents paid several hundred dollars that are non-refundable for Dahlhoff to take the MCAT.

It wasn’t until just a few months ago Dahlhoff made the decision to go on to graduate school. She and her father were away on a trip when she got the news from Notre Dame that they wanted her to come for an interview.

Dahlhoff and her dad kept the news of the interview a secret from her mom for a day. Once she told her mom about the interview, her mom was happy and proud that she cried for nearly the entire day Dahlhoff said.

During the month of January Dahlhoff interviewed for the graduate program at three different colleges: the University of South Florida, the University of Texas Medical Branch and the University of Notre Dame.

“I chose to apply to all of them because of their parasite research projects because that’s what I enjoy doing,” Dahlhoff said.

Even though it was difficult for her to do the research at NSU because of their lack of equipment, funding and sadly, encouragement sometimes. However, she was very fortunate to have a professor and advisor who was a parasitologist who continued to fan the flames of interest for Dahlhoff.

Not to long ago Dahlhoff was notified that she was accepted into all three graduate schools she applied to. But she kept it a secret from her parents for nearly a month until a reveal party.

After carefully weighing all of her options, she chose to attend Notre Dame.

“It’s a very prestigious school, in the top twenty for research schools and I knew that I would be funded in my research,” Dahlhoff said of just a few of her reasons for choosing to attend Notre Dame.

Dahlhoff recalls that during the interview process for at all three schools, her experience at Notre Dame definitely stood out to her and ended up playing a factor in her final decision.

“Being there for the interview was so much different from the other two. It was like a family, they were so kind. It felt like it wasn’t even an interview,” Dahlhoff said.

She recalled that she sat with professors who were conducting her interview for approximately thirty minutes while they explained their research projects to her then they asked her to join their research team.

Dahlhoff is the daughter of John, an electronics engineer, and Pam, a nurse, Jett. Both of her parents work on Fort Polk.

Dahlhoff said that until high school she really had no idea that she even liked science. She credits Anacoco High School Science teacher Christa Haymon for sparking her interest.

“My mom took her, my little brother (John) is in her class right now. She is fierce and tough but she really got me into science,” Dahlhoff said of Haymon.

Dahlhoff said that because of Haymon, while she was in high school, she was able to attend a conference in Washington, D.C. for future medical leaders where she was able to talk to Nobel prize winners.

At this point in her life she still does not know what she wants to do as a career. She knows what a Ph.D. can lead to and she knows what she enjoys doing.

But right now, she does not know what the future holds for her after graduate school.

On average it takes five years to complete a graduate program but at Notre Dame Dahlhoff will have eight years. That gives her plenty of time to figure out what she will do as her “big girl job”.

Dahlhoff and her husband Jacob, from Hornbeck, who will also graduate from NSU today, are eager to start the next chapter of their lives when they head to Indiana in August.

Reporter's Note: It has been brought to my attention that some readers may interpret this article as a negative reflection on Pam Jett or NSU. This is absolutely not the intention and I would like to stress that Pam Jett is extremely proud of her daughter's achievements. Furthermore, Haley Dahlhoff is very thankful for the education and guidance she received from NSU.