When he first came to Union College, senior Daniel Klein knew that he wanted to go into medicine. “I wanted my college experience to prepare me to get a professional degree one day,” he said. “Since I have several physicians in my family, I was especially interested.” But Klein wasn’t sure which medical profession was right for him. He chose biomedical science as his major for its flexibility. “Biomedical science is a great program here at Union; it gives you the ability to go a lot of different routes. You get a bit of everything — chemistry, biology, physics.”

Originally, Klein chose pre-medical for his emphasis, but it just didn’t feel right. He said, “I kept thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’ I was pretty scared. I felt like I should have some direction by this point.”

Klein still didn’t have a plan when he took Professional Development during his sophomore year. This class is designed to help students planning to enter medical fields prepare for graduate and professional programs. “I took it during the COVID lockdown,” said Klein. “All my required shadowing hours were done virtually. But afterward, I decided to be proactive about seeking out professionals to do in-person shadowing with. What really helped me were the resources I got from my professor about reaching out to people for shadowing opportunities. You can’t get around the fact that you have to contact people.”

After exploring several fields, Klein was no closer to choosing a direction. “I thought, ‘Well, I’ve shadowed everything else. Why not try dentistry?’” He reached out to a local dentist and arranged a shadowing opportunity. “It was a really amazing experience. I spent around 30-40 hours shadowing there, and it changed my life.”

After falling in love with the dental profession, Klein changed his emphasis from pre-medical to pre-dentistry. “I love the one-on-one care aspect, the working hours and the craftsmanship involved in dentistry,” he said. “Seeing dentistry first-hand changed my whole vision of what healthcare could be and what I could do in the future.”

Although Klein’s plans for his future have shifted, his involvement in campus life has not. As a freshman, he joined the Campus Ministries team to help with uGather, Union’s midweek worship service for students, faculty and staff. “We wanted to turn Union’s chapel service into a time that was purposely designed for building community and worshiping together,” said Klein. “We started from there and now it’s turned into something totally different and better than we ever imagined it could be.”

“Spirituality and being involved on campus is crucial to me,” Klein continued. “I’ve really valued the opportunity to live out my faith at a Christian institution and enrich it with like-minded Christians. I’ve learned that my life is so much better when I have it centered around Christ. And if I had to rewind time, I would have done that a lot sooner, right? I didn’t do that my freshman year as well as I should have. But now I know that taking charge of your own spirituality is so important.”

Klein credits Union’s opportunities for on-campus involvement with helping him secure a place in a graduate program. “This time next year, I’m going to be in dental school. It’s really exciting! I’ll be honest, everyone talks like the grades are the number one thing for getting into a medical graduate program. But the thing is, what reviewing boards want to see is the entire package, that you have experience with volunteering and the intentions and passions to be a good healthcare professional. Throughout my time at Union, I was able to build my graduate program application and I got accepted to dental school. I’m really happy with myself.”

Although Klein is looking forward to the next phase of his life, the thought of graduation is bittersweet. He said, “It’s just surreal to think about how I’m already almost done with college and moving on. If I could share one thing with next year’s incoming freshmen, it would be that getting involved on campus is crucial for getting fantastic experiences and making friends. There’s no shortage of amazing people here at Union College to surround yourself with.”