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Robert Carroll, 2009 Graduate

With a major that consists of nearly a double major in biology and computer science, with a minor in chemistry, and leaves little or no room for electives outside the discipline, it’s easy to fall under the impression that bioinformatics undergraduate students at Baylor have time for nothing but studying. But that assumption, Robert Carroll notes, is far from reality.

The Granbury, Texas, native graduated from Baylor in 2009. Despite the rigorous curriculum of bioinformatics, he found time to get what he calls the “entire Baylor experience.”

“I was very involved in campus activities,” Carroll says. “I was in the Golden Wave Marching Band and the Courtside Players band, and traveled with both of them. And I was active in Kappa Kappa Psi (an academic national band fraternity). There are so many things happening all the time at Baylor; my undergrad experience wouldn’t have been the same without doing outside things.”

With a heavy course load, Carroll says the key is organization.

“Even with studying, you can stay involved on campus. You just have to make a schedule and figure out time management. I wasn’t so great at this as a freshman, but I learned,” he says. “Now I can’t imagine college without doing all of it. Class was fun, but there is so much more at Baylor.”

Staying in contact with his professors is another way Carroll managed to fit fun into studying.

“The professors there are always happy to help,” he says. “They really want you to learn and be prepared for the next step.” For Carroll, that next step was to continue his education. He is taking graduate classes in bioinformatics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and is on track to become a PhD candidate.

“Baylor’s degree program really covered all my bases,” he says. “I feel completely qualified because of the coursework and the professors I had a Baylor. They gave me an incredible foundation in bioinformatics.”

While other students are taking competency courses to get up to speed in certain areas, Carroll has been able to take all upper level courses at Vanderbilt.

“Realistically, I could get my master’s degree a bit sooner, but instead I think I’m going to take more courses that are really interesting to me,” he says.

After completing a PhD program, Carroll wants to explore career options, including the possibility of working in personalized medicine; however, he hasn’t decided on a firm career path.

“That’s one of the main things about bioinformatics that appealed to me,” he says. “It’s so versatile. It’s given me a broad base, and I feel like I can be anything I want to be.”