The biochemistry major from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., carries a GPA of 3.8 and was one of the top students last year in Vanderslice Professor T. Ross Kelly's class in Organic Chemistry, among the most demanding of pre-med courses. She has been involved in research on enzymes as an assistant in the laboratory of Prof. Evan Kantrowitz (Chemistry) this past semester.
Jennifer Runco was selected as an All-America in the slalom as a sophomore, while also being named to the Academic All-America team. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
"I'd say that for anything I do, I try to put my whole heart into it," she said in a recent interview at Merkert Chemistry Center as an early December snow blanketed the campus.
"Skiing is an outlet to balance schoolwork. Of course," she added, with a laugh, "it makes me more stressed, and gives me more work and less time!"
Runco currently spends up to a dozen hours in the lab each week and another 10 training for the ski season, which opens next month and features "home" races two hours away at Ascutney, Vt.
Her energy in combining scholarship and sports has earned plaudits from coaches and teachers alike.
"Jeni puts the intensity she shows in the lab on the hill," said Ski Coach Brad Vermeulen. "The commitment to the ski team is huge. Yet she can go through pre-med with honors. She's an amazing athlete and an amazing student. She's able to find the middle ground to do both."
Organic Chemistry, an unforgiving course noted for separating the wheat from the chaff in the pre-med ranks, requires learning a great deal of material as well as how to apply it practically in laboratory research. Runco took to the subject with apparent ease, Kelly said, finishing near the top of a class of 150 students.
"She must have something that makes it easy for her," said Kelly. "She just has a knack for it."
Runco says of Organic Chemistry: "That was my best class at BC so far. I really enjoyed it."
The aspiring doctor said she welcomes a challenge, whether posed by mountain or microscope. The slalom, her All-America event, requires skiing around things. Research requires another sort of dexterity, she said.
"In science, there are always obstacles," said Runco. "Right now I'm doing biochemistry research on stuff you can't see - small enzymes. In all the different tests you do, you have to put all the puzzle pieces together and see how they come out. It's like skiing with a blindfold."
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