CCU News / Faith

Women in STEM – Meet Leielle Salinger

Meet Leielle Salinger! She is a senior Pre-Physician Assistant (PA) major here at CCU.

Growing up, Biology was always a subject that she loved the most. She mentioned that she was very math oriented and really blessed to have really incredible math teachers throughout her education. If I asked her, her senior year of HS, she would have said math. However, coming to CCU, science has become a class that she loves and the Christian perspective that we can have within the class environment has made her love it more.

To be a woman in STEM is someone working in the field of STEM. However, to Leielle it is following the calling that the Lord has put in her life.

She understands that the Lord can change different callings at different stages. She received clarity of her decision throughout high school by her recognizing that she loved medicine and learning about the human body. Additionally, she comes from a pretty medical family. Her grandpa did family practice, her uncle is a cardiologist, and her aunts are nurses. She was surrounded by medicine a lot and realized that she loved it. She want to share the abilities that the Lord has given her to help people get better. Also, it is a  unique opportunity to be a woman in STEM since women are often the minority. As she is starting to apply to PA school, she has also seen more women applying as well. This has encouraged Leielle because she gets to see how the field is slowly opening up to more and more woman.

She loves science because it is so very clear that this is God’s creation and God’s handiwork because the unique design that is in every little bit of science that never fails to blow her mind. In Organic Chemistry, the detail that they get to learn of different organic compounds, and reactions is seriously mind-blowing. Then when she goes to Cell Biology and Microbiology, she gets to see the detailed organization structure to everything. During her time in the Advanced Anatomy, also called the cadaver lab, she got to see the human body in front of her.  She recognized her Creator and Designer which was such an amazing opportunity.

She mentioned that as she knows the Creator and Designer and the fact that “He cares for [her]” makes her studies even more impactful every day she gets to learn.

She loves how logical and straightforward science is although there are a lot of things that we do not know which is evidence of a Creator since we cannot know everything. God is the only one who is sovereign over all things. The fact that there is often one answer to everything made learning science fun which is also probably why she loved math growing up.

Leielle plans to go to PA school after her undergrad and is fascinated and excited to work with people in the realm of science, which is something that really has stuck with her since talking to her grandpa in middle school. He owned a Christian family practice in Boulder which you cannot come across now so he always told Leielle that he knew when patients walked through the door that not only were they hurting physically but spiritually. He approached every single patient with that mindset and the goal of sharing Christ with them first and foremost, in the careful realm of medicine they don’t allow you to do much, in a Christian practice it was very different.

Being able to help people, it has always been something that the Lord has placed on Leielle’s heart. She has always been one to notice the smaller person in the room which excites her, being able to help them in the medical field is something she looks forward to. Additionally, sharing the gospel as well to her patient.

The human body is just fascinating, God’s creation of the human body is just crazy amazing.

Leielle was inspired to pursue medicine because of her family. Seeing them do what they do was an inspiration. Her grandpa has been the biggest influence because he is super special and near and dear to her heart. She has gotten to have such fulfilling conversations with her grandpa asking questions whether it is ethical science questions or how can she interact with future patients someday and be a light for Christ in the medical setting. He has been an inspiration to pursue a career in medicine because of what he did in the community as well as the love he built in Boulder, 30-40 years ago. She hopes to mirror his actions one day in the future.

Leielle has loved a lot of the classes that she has taken here at CCU despite them being challenging. However, she has been able to enjoy the content in all of them. Her favorite class has been Microbiology with Dr. Woodman. It was really fascinating to study the different infections and recognizing and looking at practical treatment. It felt the most hands on and similar to what she will be studying Lord willing in PA school. Additionally, the cadaver lab has been an unreal and cool experience for Leielle. Just to be able to ask question and be hands on looking at the human body and studying it every Friday was the coolest thing.

Leielle picked her major because it was something that she felt like her interest in high school aligned with, she enjoyed math and science and she wanted to study something medical In middle school, she wanted to be a veterinary school but then her dad had a conversation with her. He asked her, “Would you rather help people or would you rather help animals?”

She remembers this conversation so well, because she sobbed as she said that “she would rather take care of people” because it is people that the Lord has called us to minister to and it was the heart of others that Leielle wanted to tend and care for.

Since that day she knew that she wanted to help people in the realm of science.

PA school is something Leielle is super excited for because she knew she did not want to go to med school and she knew she did not want to be a nurse. She had a cool opportunity to shadow and have great conversations with a PA back home. This is where she realized the awesome opportunity of becoming a PA and the role that PAs play now a days is advancing day by day and what they are capable now is not what they were capable 20 years ago. The real cool thing is that every conversation that Leielle has had, each PA is so excited that she is pursuing PA and has encouraged her all the more which has been cool to see because they are like, “wow I love my job.” She talked about the time that she got mono. Instead of seeing a doctor, she ended up seeing a PA and got to have so many cool conversations. To this day, she still communicates with this PA if she has any questions.

As we all know, STEM is a difficult track to pursue, and school can be pretty overbearing with numerous projects, homework, and tests/quizzes. Her first two years, she played volleyball, so the balance was nuts. Within the first two years figuring out how to balance between friends, school, and free time was definitely a challenge. She found herself making unrealistic goals which caused the balance to become thrown off until she figured out what she should prioritize.  It was a hard dynamic but the Lord has definitely helped in everything. She also learned how to make the Lord number one in all areas of her life which helped tremendously.

Leielle would encourage others to pursue STEM, to first understand that it must come from within. If you have interests and desires that align within STEM, she would encourage others to not be intimidated by the social norms. If the Lord has given you clarity and peace to pursue something in that direction, obviously, follow the Lord’s calling in your life. Yes, it is challenging but the Lord has given us different capabilities and talents and if it is the Lord’s will, He will help you get through with all the difficult science classes. Ultimately, it is the study of God’s creation so there is nothing more encouraging when knowing that we know the Designer of the design that we are studying. The Lord will help us as we study His creation which has helped with additionally prayers over all of her classes and studying, the Lord has answered prayers.

Leielle has gotten through the tough times, and with the Lord’s help, He can do it for anybody too.

Some advice that Leielle would give is to talk to those who have gone before you within the field of STEM, we have incredible professors who are women especially in the School of Science and Engineering who are so capable, wise, well-spoken, and driven, successful. They are Godly woman who can help give counsel but also provide discernment. They would most likely encourage you just like God is telling you to continue to pursue what he has placed in your heart. Also you are capable!

Leielle hopes to share her faith in her future career because your testimony can be shared but the Bible is clear that we are a living testimony for others so she hopes to be a light for Christ that does not compromise within the workplace. She knows so much compromise has been taking place so she hopes to and will stand up for truth whether it is standing up to be pro-life, conversations of gender with grace and love, as a living testimony for the Lord. Also, she hopes to point people to Christ because if you are a light, people will start to ask “why are you different” and that is the perfect opportunity to tell them about Christ.

One thing Leielle wants others to know about her is that she grew up in Israel. She moved to the US when she was twelve. Hebrew was her first language and reflecting back to her twelve-year-old self telling her that she will be going to a Christian university in Colorado, pursuing PA school, she would probably be floored. Since she was sitting in her English classes barely knowing how to spell. That being said, Leielle hopes that “if its His will, He can do all things”.

If we follow His will, there is so much joy and excitement living. Leielle is able to say that she is doing this now, that because of His, it is truly all glory to Him, every detail of her life is all glory to her.

Thank you so much Leielle for sharing your story!

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