From Cutting Hair to

Hope Eden Found a Whole New Life at UWS

Hope Eden, ’18 pre-medicine and health biology major, had been working as a hair stylist when she realized she wasn’t totally satisfied and had a growing desire to learn and challenge herself.  She decided to pursue a college education and see where it might lead, but she likely would never have guessed how earning a degree at UW-Superior would change her life.

“I earned my GED and went to Lake Superior College to get my associate’s degree,” said Hope. “I was thinking about transferring to a larger school in the area to get my bachelor’s degree, but was having difficulties navigating the process and getting anyone to answer my questions. My instructor at LSC suggested I check out UWS. I was interested in biology so I called Dr. Schmude.”

Superior Story: From Cutting Hair to Cloning Genes
Hope Eden, ’18 pre-medicine and health biology major, had been working as a hair stylist when she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree. She never wou...

“Within one ring, he [Dr. Schmude] answered my call and talked to me for a half hour. I knew instantly that I had found the right place.”

Hope said that level of personal attention and sense of community continued throughout her time at UWS. She flourished, taking classes in the sciences that interested her, seizing every opportunity that came her way (and there were many!), and developing relationships with her professors, all of which eventually led her to find her passion in genetics and molecular biology.

Hard work pays off

Like many students at UWS, Hope worked incredibly hard, taking a full load of classes during the day, working in the labs, and continuing to cut hair and bartend in the evening to pay for tuition and living expenses. Clearly, it all paid off.

manipulate DNA sequences
record and analyze data
report findings


Students at UW-Superior benefit from an institution-wide commitment to experiential learning opportunities, including Academic-Service Learning, quality undergraduate research experiences, internships and field placements. The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and other research fellowships give students invaluable experience and connections with professionals in their fields of study.

Hope was selected to work on a cancer research study using zebrafish at UWS. She learned laboratory research skills and protocol, how to manipulate DNA sequences in cells, record and analyze data, and report findings. She was also chosen for a summer research fellowship at the University of Colorado-Denver, an invaluable opportunity often only available to top students at much larger research universities.

Hope Eden Studying pre-medicine and health biology

Hope and Dr. Jenean O’Brien work on a research project together in one of the UWS labs

On par with Ivy League peers

“At first, I felt like a bit of an underdog when I realized just how competitive the opportunity was and that most of the other students there were from Ivy League schools or much larger universities, but I quickly realized that my experience and knowledge was on par with theirs,” she said.

“The director of UC-Denver’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program was really surprised and impressed when he heard that I had been cloning genes at UWS.”

Hope Eden works with a microscope slide

Hope manipulates the gene sequence in a zebrafish embryo cell.

Hope continued her work with the UC-Denver scientists, alongside her professor, Dr. Jenean O’Brien, when she returned to UWS, documenting and reporting her findings regularly to the UC-Denver researchers. She also used her experience to develop a research project for UWS’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and was selected to present her findings at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).

Research opens doors

While at NCUR, Hope met representatives from a private research laboratory in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her work so impressed them that they hired her to be a research assistant, working on experiments related to human disease research — the exact area she wants to pursue.

Hope Eden by Fish Tanks

Hope spent many hours working with the zebrafish as part of her cancer research.

Hope plans to apply for graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in molecular biology, possibly in the area of neurological and mental health research.

“UWS was the perfect place for me and the individual attention I got from faculty and the way they invested in me is something I don’t think happens everywhere,” she said. “I’ve spent hours in my professors’ offices and it’s honestly changed my life.”