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James Zachary Todd

Bachelor of Science, Microbiology


Briefly tell us about yourself (e.g. hometown, family, hobbies, favorite BYU courses, intended profession)

Originally from North Carolina from a family of 5, coming to BYU was a whole new world. With no friends or family nearby, the BYU community quickly filled the gap close friends and many academic opportunities. I fell in love with the rocky ridges of the mountains of Utah. Every chance I got I was in Utah's wilderness. With courses that broadened my view, or should I say microscopically sharpened my view as I am a microbiology major, I saw my surroundings in a new light. One of the best courses MMBIO 110R - Extremophiles. It combined the outdoors with microbiology. Touring Yellowstone and other places, we were introduced to the amazing microscopic lives that inhabited the harsh environments. Sometimes I too thought I was in a harsh academic environment. My classes challenged me beyond anything I've done before. However, they were very rewarding. They have prepared me to go on to bigger things. My future lies before me, ready for the taking. I intend to become a Physician's Assistant.

Who were your greatest supporters while earning this degree?

My wife, Michelle. My Parents, Michael and Julie. And a few close friends such as Austin Steffensen and Travis Rindlisbacher. They kept me happy and optimistic about making it through each semester.

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen at BYU?

My advice for incoming students is really become colleagues with your instructors. Have them know your name. When they know your name and get to know you personally, that's when you know you are doing well in the class. Join a research group. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Be confident in who you are. You deserve to be here just like everyone else.

How has your experience at BYU prepared you for the rest of your life?

Challenging classes while working full time and balancing a social life was not easy. Prioritizing and time management became a key player in my life. Sometimes one outweighed the other, but all in all, it was enjoyable. Keeping busy keeps you going and feeling energetic. I strive to have a life that allows me to be involved with many things. BYU has shown me that I can. Hard work, focus, and diligence have been refined during my 4 years here. I am so much more confident in myself. I know that I can always fall back on the lessons learned at BYU when I'm hit with any obstacle or opportunity in my life.