Melissa Duvall looks forward to earning her bachelor’s degree during the Purdue University Northwest Commencement Exercises Monday (5/8) on the Westville Campus. She will have little time to relax afterward before packing up her belongings to continue studies at Palmer College of Chiropractic to pursue a career that she was introduced to in a PNW class.
Duvall, a Portage resident, enrolled at PNW to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Her mother had earned her degree in nursing at the Westville Campus, so it seemed natural for her daughter to follow. But taking Anatomy & Physiology I, instructed by Clinical Assistant Professor of Biology Scott Simerlein, inspired a new calling.
Finding her true calling
“I finally discovered my true passion.” Duvall explained. “Chapter after chapter I was captivated by the wonders of human anatomy and its remarkable physiology. This entity in which my mind is contained has so much more power than I could have imagined. Never had I encountered anything so complex and beautiful as the human body.”
She spoke to Simerlein about her desire to pursue a career working with the human body, admitting she was dismayed by “learning about thousands of drugs that are used to confuse the body and hide problems instead of fixing what is wrong.”
Simerlein, himself a doctor of chiropractic, discussed with her several possible career options, including that of becoming a doctor of chiropractic. Duvall eventually visited the Palmer College of Chiropractic, in Davenport, IA., Simerlein’s alma mater, to learn more. She said the visit helped her realize that “chiropractic was my true calling. I was never so sure about anything in my life.”
Bachelor’s degree in liberal studies
Duvall is graduating from PNW with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. Her education has helped her fulfill the prerequisites required by Palmer, which include classes and labs in life and physical sciences and a well-rounded general education in the humanities and social sciences.
Her grades earned her placement on the academic honors lists for most of her eight semesters at PNW.
Her campus experience
Duvall excelled in anatomy and physiology classes, so Simerlein asked her to serve as a supplemental instructor in 2015.
“I was thrilled to assist in teaching the next round of students about the amazing human body. Being part of the anatomy and physiology classes for an additional year enhanced my knowledge as well,” she said.
During her final year on campus, she has been an Anatomy and Physiology undergraduate teaching assistant.
In addition, Duvall volunteered to help with the “Cadaver Palaver” program, which introduces students from area schools to the PNW cadaver labs.
Duvall also is a founding member and first president of the PNW ChiroClub, serving both PNW and Ivy Tech Community College students. In collaboratively exploring the career, club members developed an academic support system and social outlet.
Simerlein; his sister, Mitzi Simerlein, a doctor of chiropractic who teaches at Ivy Tech; and even their mother have spoken to the club about the profession and running a professional practice.
Support of family and friends
“I am very grateful to have a very supportive family,” Duvall said. “My mom, dad and brother have always been there for me. My boyfriend, Ron, knows how to keep me laughing. Dr. Simerlein always has encouraged me and has been a tremendous mentor. I cannot thank him enough for all he has done for me.”
An amazing school
“PNW is an amazing school,” Duvall said. “I have had remarkable professors who care about their students as individuals. They make themselves available to students and ensure that you understand the topics they are teaching. My professors challenged my mind in countless ways. I became a well-rounded person because of them. I look forward to becoming a doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) and being Melissa Duvall, D.C.”
Purdue University Northwest
Purdue University Northwest (PNW), a comprehensive regional university within the Purdue University system, has two Northwest Indiana campuses in Hammond and Westville. With more than 15,000 students enrolled last fall and nearly 70 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, Purdue Northwest is Indiana’s fifth largest public university.