Riley DeMichele Sparks With Science


With seniors’ days withering away and nearly three months until the class of 2021 graduates will be at Memorial Stadium in their caps and gown experiencing a moment that felt like it would never come, but will be a stepping stone to the next chapter of our lives. Day by day more and more college decisions are being made as we near further to graduation day. The next chapter of seniors’ lives will be changing in six short months when we move away, make new friendships, and new experiences this upcoming fall. Senior Riley DeMichele has a tough decision– whether to follow a full-ride scholarship to Seton Hill University for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or attend another university to major in biomedical engineering. As time passes by the decision gets harder each and every day and starts to feel more real.

Granted the Women in Science scholarship by Seton Hill University during the winter of her junior year. Mr. Reaugh, her chemistry teacher, nominated Riley for the prestigious scholarship for continued proof of being a hardworking, standout student in Chemistry sophomore year as well as AP Chemistry her junior year. “AP Chem did not come easy to Riley, but she would always come in for extra help and did a lot of work for the class outside of the classroom.  She was also always willing to help others in the class understand the material.  In addition, her positive attitude and cheerfulness always made the class more enjoyable,” Mr. Reaugh explained. 

SHU offers a full paid tuition for four years, with maintaining a 3.5 or higher grade point average. “To receive the scholarship was an amazing experience that took a  weight off my shoulders about college cost, tuition, and debt. Receiving this scholarship made me feel like all of my hard work had paid off all of the long hard hours and nights of studying,” Riley expressed. Over the years, Riley has maintained a grade point average of above a 4.0 and has mastered balancing her busy schedule between her education, clubs, family, friends, and social life. This is no easy task, but Riley did this with grace and ease from her freshman to senior year. 

With other options on the table, taking advantage of the full ride for a Nursing degree or attending a school slightly further away from home for Biomedical Engineering is a choice that Riley is trying to weigh the possibilities. A large factor playing a role in this decision is the difference in career fields medical versus engineering. Though the careers in these fields involve similar strengths such as math, science, problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaborating with others, the schooling and future focus of coursework is completely different. “Choosing medical versus engineering plays a huge part in choosing the university that has my intended major,” Riley said. The medical field is always in a high demand for employees and her mother, as well as many of her cousins and aunts, are in the medical field career. “Seeing that my family is primarily in the medical field makes me drawn to get a job in that pathway. On the other hand, engineering is an interesting pathway, especially for women in STEM, and makes you stand out to employers. Either career choice will be a good outcome,” said Riley. 

Duquesne University’s Physician Assistant program and the University of South Florida’s Nursing program, as well as the nursing program at Seton Hill, are pulling Riley to make the decision toward the medical field. Duquesne University’s Physician Assistant program is very prestigious as they only accept 40 of the applicants. The school is highly reputable and has great job placement opportunities for graduates. The University of Southern Florida is one of the top 50 nursing and research schools in the country that also allows for a great opportunity. 

Penn State University and Bucknell University are drawing her to attend university for Biomedical Engineering. Riley has seen both of the schools and is very attracted to the campus and college lifestyle that both of these schools provide. On the other hand with the offer she has from Seton Hill University, a well-earned scholarship would be wasted if she was to attend a larger university that is not able to bargain with the scholarship. “Seeing that Seton Hill offered me such a great scholarship, it does make me more inclined to attend there. Coming out of college with very little debt and an amazing job in the medical field would be a no-brainer. At the same time, I want to go somewhere where I feel at home and enjoy the next four years of my life,” Riley expressed. 

With each day passing by and the countdown to graduation day in June continues, the college decisions will continue to become finalized. Riley’s sense of determination, diligence, intellect, and judgment will guide her to make a choice best suited for her and her future in either field that it may be.