Featured Tigers is a monthly series wherein the spotlight shines on a few students, alumni, faculty and staff from our Crete, Lincoln and Omaha campus locations. These individuals stand out in the best way — as talented and driven leaders.
View all Featured Tigers here.
What is your name and graduation year?
Cassie Hays (née Steiner) '09
What was your major or degree program?
Tell us a little about what you've done since graduating. What is your current role? Where are you working?
I pursued an M.S. and then a Ph.D. in Integrative Physiology and Molecular Medicine from University of Nebraska Medical Center, where my dissertation work was in retinal electrophysiology. I am currently an Assistant Professor of Physiology in the School of Medicine at Creighton University where I teach medical, physician assistant, and master's degree students.
How do you feel Doane prepared you for your career?
Doane really grew and fostered my love for science. Particularly my ecology and botany classes with Dr. Elder; though I didn't want to end up in waders every day. And, I was one of the more prepared students for my advanced graduate biochemistry and cellular biology classes thanks to Dr. Holmes. Currently, I've been modeling my own teaching and mentorship after my favorite professors at Doane; treating my students as colleagues, breaking up lecture with humor, etc.
What do you consider the best part of your Doane experience?
The social part! I loved living away from home, on campus, but not quite being an "adult" yet. It felt like a long summer camp living with the Phi Sigs. My friends from Doane are still my friends today and now our kids play together.
What is something you're proud of accomplishing or achieving while at Doane? What are you proud of accomplishing or achieving in your career?
I'm proud that I had the resources, people and time to figure out what external factors affect my learning, and how I best retain material and stay motivated. That was essential for the autonomy that graduate school required. I am also proud that I finished graduate school with a toddler, and defended my dissertation 38 weeks pregnant with my second child, online, at the beginning of the pandemic. Also I had mastered a technique in graduate school that only a handful of people in the world are able to do.
Who has been/is a major influence or role model for you from Doane? How have they helped you?
Dr. Andrea Holmes! She was a challenging but supportive professor. She is a very successful scientist who shared that she had struggles in school when she was young. I found that to be very inspiring and I think that kind of transparency with students builds trust. I really learned a lot from her, she treated me with collegiality and that made me not want to disappoint her. There is no anonymity with the class sizes at Doane! Besides that, she encouraged me and wrote me letters of recommendation for graduate school.
What advice would you give to current students?
Think of your college career as an investment! You're paying a lot of money (plus interest) to be there, get the most out of it you can! Build your resume with activities and leadership roles but also invest in relationships! Those people (friends and faculty) will end up supporting you emotionally and professionally for many years!
What's something you like about yourself that other people may not know?
I like to be creative. When I don't have time, it manifests as my fashion choices or gift wrapping; but, lately I've been rediscovering my love of painting!