Student Spotlight: Sean Murray, SPHP Program

Sean Murray at his Westwood Externship

Sean Murray at his Westwood Externship

Army veteran Sean Murray is the epitome of hard work and dedication. His plan is to go to veterinary school, and he is taking courses at UNE to fulfill his science prerequisites.

Because his home internet signal is too weak for proctoring, he has been driving two hours one way to his in-laws’ house every two weeks to take his exams in a comfortable setting.

Additionally, he volunteers to help other students in the class and sends out helpful supplemental videos that he finds online. His instructor, Llanie Nobile, says “I have one month left with him but I will miss his enthusiasm – he is an ideal student.”

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you’re from?

I’m originally from Buffalo, NY where I went to Canisius College and joined ROTC. I was in the Army for seven years, and when I left I started working towards becoming a veterinary technician. I did a year of vet tech schooling, and I’m currently a veterinary assistant.

What encouraged you to take courses at UNE?

Right now I’m taking Organic Chemistry I – CHEM 1020. I was encouraged to take it at UNE for a few reasons – there aren’t that many local community colleges that offer it – I’d have to drive three hours to northern Virginia to take it, and because of the pandemic not many schools are offering in-person labs right now.

Another reason that UNE Online worked for me was that a lot of the local universities don’t offer courses a la carte if you already have a degree, which I do. So that narrowed down my options further.

Best of all, I was able to slide right into this course without taking a break after my community college courses. It’s been very useful to be able to continue on with my study habits and keep that schedule so I don’t lose anything.

Was the self-paced aspect of the class helpful for your busy schedule?

I work 20 hours a week on top of going to school, and my wife is also in school getting her doctorate, so we are busy. The flexible scheduling of this course is helpful with that so I can work over the weekend, or at lunch, or whenever I can fit it in.

The format of the class also worked for me because I don’t always do really well with lectures. In an in-person environment, I tend to get distracted and lose focus. With the online lectures I can follow along with my book, and I can also get in touch with the instructor if I have questions.

It’s pretty helpful because I’m able to be engaged with the material the entire time.

Did you use the office hours that the instructor offered?

Yes, I definitely took advantage of the office hours that the instructor offered to discuss elements of the lectures or the resources that weren’t necessarily mentioned in the book.

I’d usually make notes during the week of any questions I had, and then talk to the instructor about them. I found office hours to be really helpful in clearing up any questions I came up with.

What are you planning to do when you finish this course?

My immediate goal is to get into veterinary school and eventually become a doctor in a mixed animal practice.

In the summer of 2020 I had an externship with a rather large, 12-doctor practice that had a full barn, small animal clinic and a fleet of veterinary trucks for house calls to local farms. That experience shaped me, and led me to want to work in that sort of hospital environment with both large and small animals.

Did you feel that the coursework was rigorous?

Definitely. I am only taking this one course, Organic Chemistry I, and I probably spend upwards of 40 hours a week studying. So, it’s quite a bit.

But as I said, I do take advantage of the office hours, and I’ve found them to be very helpful. Usually there are only 2-3 students there, so it’s similar to a one-on-one session or tutoring.

Any advice for potential students considering our science prerequisites courses?

I would definitely advise students to use the supplemental videos that they send you – I don’t think that all students do. Especially if you watch them after doing the reading – I found them to be super helpful. They helped me to become faster and more efficient, and made test-taking a whole lot easier.

Also – make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get your coursework done. It takes time.

Learn more about our online science prerequisites courses

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