Sydney Gallagher's College Career as an Exceptional Honors College Student

Sydney Gallagher, a senior Honors College student and biology major, balances changing majors, deciding to attend physician assistant’s school after graduation and completing research all while being a student-athlete.

Sydney Gallagher, an Honors College senior graduating in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Arts in biology, has had a college career chock-full of activities, learning experiences, and extraordinary accomplishments. Originally from Hudson, Ohio, Sydney decided to attend Kent State University due to its proximity, exceptional programming, and remarkable women’s track and field team, which she joined as a distance runner. Throughout high school, Sydney planned on attending medical school and started her college career as a sports medicine major, but after one semester, she decided to switch to biology with a pre-med track. As the student-athlete grew and developed as a college student, she then realized that she was not as interested in attending medical school as she once thought and switched to exercise physiology. With all of the freedom that Kent State offers students to explore their passions and with help from her advisors, she gained the courage to again switch back to a biology major and was now eyeing the  Bachelor of Arts rather than the Bachelor of Science program, which she will complete in spring 2024. Sydney has now been accepted to Baldwin Wallace University’s Physician Assistant (PA) graduate program upon graduation this spring.

Sydney smiles for a headshot photo

“I was thankful that one of our coaches (on the women’s track and field team), was in medical school for a semester, and then he dropped out and is going to PT school now. I also talked to all my advisors, an academic advisor, the honors advisors and my athletic advisor for advice,” Sydney says.

Along with her extensive undergraduate coursework, the biology student also dips her toe in many experiential learning opportunities in order to become fully immersed in the professional field she intends to join post-graduation. She volunteers at University Hospitals Portage as a patient transporter and has been given the opportunity to shadow many different individuals in the medical field which has ultimately helped her decide her career path.

“I had shadowed a variety of different doctors– PTs, PAs, chiropractors. I just kind of decided, you know what, I think PA school is the route I want to go,” she says.

Sydney also conducts research at the university. The biology major has been completing research on campus with the exercise physiology department under her mentor, John McDaniel, Ph.D., since her second semester of freshman year and has been working with the subject matter ever since. Sydney was given the opportunity to present her research at The Midwest Conference in Minneapolis and again in Denver at the National Conference. She is even published as a co-author for her research– “Comparative Analysis of Blood Flow during Force-Matched Electrical Stimulation and Voluntary Isometric Contractions," by Patrick Tomko.  

Sydney running distance of the women’s track and field team

Her life is certainly a balancing act with school, research and volunteer work all while competing as a student-athlete on the Division I women’s track and field team.

“I'm not focused solely on running. I'm not focused solely on school. I'm not focused solely on like my research, you know, being able to do one for a little bit and then switch and go to the other and then the other one has been good for mental stimulation and not getting super bored. It's definitely really busy, but I like being busy!” Gallagher exclaims.

She is a distance runner on a team of about 11 girls. These girls have become her built-in friend group and help her keep her head above water when balancing all of the amazing things she does. She says, “the friendships that have come out of it, I anticipate them to be lifelong”.

Running, just like all of her other outlets, gives her a space to work at her goals and watch her dreams fall into place in real time due to her diligent efforts.

“Running very much is a consistency-based sport– your efforts kind of compound upon each other. And so I think it's helped reinforce the value of hard work and the slow grind of, chipping away at your goals.”

Gallagher says she enjoys not only the physical satisfaction of pushing herself through the act of running distance but also appreciates the traveling that she and the team get to do. She has been given an opportunity to flourish during college due to the many activities and programs she is a part of.

“It's been really nice being part of the Honors College and being part of athletics. I feel like I have so many people to turn to and just different events going on,” Sydney says.

Kaylene Trimmer is Sydney's Honors College advisor and has helped her through her many transitions from major to major and ensured that she is on track to graduate with honors distinction at Commencement. As one of her honors credits, Sydney completed a Class Project Agreement within her immunology course in which she wrote a research project investigating a cancer treatment called T-cell therapy. This gave her the opportunity to explore something she was interested in a bit deeper in a way she wouldn't have been able to without the guidance and opportunities of the Honors College.

“The connections that you make with people and the ability to push yourself more and in your academic explorations, are two really big benefits of the Honors College.”

She also was recently inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honors society, and is excited about the networking and career opportunities this prestigious program has to offer.

After Sydney has completed the Physician Assistant graduate program, she hopes to work in an integrated health setting where she can combine her studies in medicine with the benefits of fueling the body properly through healthy eating habits. Her lifelong commitment to running has taught her the importance of feeding your body proper nutrients in order to function to its best ability. Sydney also shows an interest in orthopedics, but no matter what she does, she will continue to challenge herself and excel in her field. 


Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal,, 330-672-2312

PHOTO CAPTION 1: Sydney stands in front of her research board

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Sydney smiles for a headshot photo

PHOTO CAPTION 3: Sydney running distance of the women’s track and field team with green shoes and blonde hair in braids

POSTED: Wednesday, May 1, 2024 02:01 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2024 02:56 PM