Student Spotlight: Madison Van Ophem

Meet Madison, a junior from Overland Park, Kan. who is double majoring in biochemistry and forensic science.
October 25, 2022

Hometown: Overland Park, Kan.

Majors:Forensic Science and Biochemistry 

Anticipated Date of Graduation:May 2024 

 Why did you decide to come to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?  

What initially drew me to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was its forensic science program. Since forensic science is a relatively new major in a lot of areas in the United States, I wanted to come to a school that was not too far away from home and had an established program like what UNL has. Once I visited the campus senior year and met with current students and heard more about the program, I knew that UNL was the place I wanted to be.  

What is your favorite thing about the University of Nebraska-Lincoln? 

My favorite thing about UNL is how passionate and caring everybody is. When I first came to school here, I heard about “Nebraska Nice,” but I thought that was just some saying about Nebraskans. I was wrong! Nebraska Nice isn’t just a saying here; it is a way of life. Everyone on campus is so passionate about the school and cares about each other, which makes the campus environment a lot more enjoyable than I thought it ever would be. 

What about diversity and inclusion is important to you when you think about your CASNR experience? 

Part of being a CASNR student is realizing how many different paths our students can take. With majors and programs ranging from forensic science to agribusiness, to fisheries and wildlife, every student in CASNR came from a different background and has a different end goal in life. Hearing about other CASNR students’ passions with their program and their desire to leave an impact in their field helps me realize that we all want to make a difference, even if we came from vastly different backgrounds and upbringings. 

Exposure to cultural differences is a huge part of college. What activity have you recently participated in that is different from what you are used to in your culture? This could be something you read, listened to, watched, ate or otherwise took part in. What did you learn from this activity?  

This summer, I worked as an orientation leader with the Office of New Student Enrollment. During NSE, I helped welcome over 4000 incoming freshmen and their families to campus. Of those 4000, I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds, if not thousands, of incoming UNL students and their families, and I heard thousands of different stories about the student's background, their identity, their values and interests and what makes them special as a Husker. Talking with so many different people made me realize that there is no one perfect version of a UNL student; every student has a reason to be here, and every Husker has the opportunity to succeed, no matter the background.  

What is your favorite class you have taken so far and why? 

A class I absolutely loved taking was Organic Chemistry II. In that class, I really began to understand chemistry and solve multistep synthesis problems. It was super rewarding to work a super difficult question by breaking it down into components and see it all work out. It is also really interesting to see how everyday compounds react with each other! 

What are your plans post-graduation? 

My dream goal would be to go into the FBI and be a special agent or work in a lab. Once I graduate, I am going to try to work in a crime lab or get hired as a crime scene investigator. Within the forensic science realm, I really like working with fingerprints or human remains, so I hope my first job involves working with one of those two! 

What is life like outside of school? 

Outside of my classes, I still like to stay very involved with UNL. I am a student rank leader for the mellophone section in the Cornhusker Marching Band, and although it technically is a class, I consider it one of my passions. I love hanging out with my band friends while playing super fun music for our pregame and halftime shows. I also work as a CASNR Ambassador and getting close with the CASNR Dean’s Office has been amazing! Aside from the university, I just love hanging out with my friends, going downtown to the Haymarket and taking naps. 

What scholarships, if any, have you received? 

I received the George Beadle Scholarship and Husker Heritage Scholarship for out-of-state students. During freshman year, I also received the freshman CASNR scholarship.