“My graduating class in high school consisted of 52 people,” remarks Sydney Claypoole ’21. “As you can imagine, it was a very tightly-knit environment where I formed strong relationships with not only my classmates, but with my teachers. Everyone simultaneously supported one another and pushed them to be their best.”
Claypoole was looking for a similar environment to grow and study in during college. She wanted to participate in athletics, but also be challenged in an academic environment and gain experiences that would help her achieve her dream of working in medicine. “Something kept bringing me back [to Hanover]. By the end of the college decision process, I knew what that something was: the small-school social environment, the camaraderie between faculty and students, and the academic rigor/support system hit the mark for me, and I knew I was home.”
A biochemistry major and a philosophy minor, Claypoole is a member of the Health Sciences Program, Alpha Lambda Delta and Mortar Board senior honor society. She has earned a spot on the Dean’s List every semester and, during two seasons as a member of Hanover's track and field team, was named a Tom Bohlsen Academic All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honoree.
Claypoole is part of a neuropharmacology research lab at the University of Kentucky, where she studies the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of stroke. She has been conducting remote work with this lab for two years now, so that keeps her busy outside of her Hanover coursework. Her research project through this internship was accepted for presentations at several conferences.
“I think the achievement I’m most proud of, though, was winning the 2020 Dr. Edward J. Hamilton Essay prize. I won this award for my final paper in Dr. Michael Duffy’s Medical Ethics course titled ‘Morally Required Responses to the Current Opioid Epidemic.’ This was one of the most eye-opening and challenging projects I’ve undertaken during my undergraduate career and I consider it to be one of the most pivotal. While researching for and writing this paper, I learned so much about the current state of ethics in the medical community, as well as social determinants of health. From this experience, I realized my passion for bioethics, as well as a desire to research the neurochemical effects of opioids and other drugs to maybe, one day, help solve this problem.”
From Mount Sterling, Ky., Claypoole will be attending the University of Kentucky College of Medicine after graduating from Hanover. “There are so many things I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had on this campus that I know will allow me to be a better doctor one day. If I hadn’t attended a liberal arts school, I probably would have never taken a philosophy class and learned so much about ethics and how those things translate to science and the healthcare system. I have such a thorough understanding of things like the social determinants of health, better communication and writing skills and stronger critical thinking skills that I will be able to utilize over my entire career. I am so thankful for that!”
Claypoole was a student-athlete, running primarily the 400-meter dash and the 4x400-meter relay, until injuries made her step back from competing. Since then, she has been able to devote time to other campus organizations like Panthers Making a Difference, Red Cross Panthers and the Health Sciences Program Student Advisory Board. In Phi Mu sorority, she has held numerous executive positions (treasurer, honor committee member and philanthropy committee member). She appreciates her sisters for their encouragement, support and hype over the past four years.
“Starting college, especially one as academically challenging as Hanover, was definitely a shock for me in the beginning, just like it is for most people coming out of high school. However, through all of my trials (academic and personal), I have never once lacked a support system here. I know that my professors care about me not only as a student, but as a person, and there are so many people I know that I could go to during a crisis. That just isn’t something I think I’d be able to find anywhere else,” says Claypoole. “It helps that campus is beautiful, but the biggest factor that kept me at Hanover is the friends I’ve made while here. I’m an only child, but over the past four years, I’ve built relationships with people so close that I consider them to be family. We’ve laughed together, cried together, celebrated achievements together. The memories I’ve made with my friends will last a lifetime – longer than any memories of any hardship college may have brought. That’s what makes it all worth it to me!”
Claypoole also attributes her accomplishments to her family back home in Kentucky: “I am an extremely family-oriented person. I owe all of my success to my mom, dad and grandfather. It is because of them that I had the opportunity to attend Hanover in the first place. I appreciate every sacrifice they have made for me to pursue my dreams and I want to make them proud in everything that I do. The fact that they, especially my grandfather, will get to witness me walk across the stage and receive my diploma in-person, and later this summer attend my white-coat ceremony, makes all the struggles I’ve endured thus far worth it.”
Now on the cusp of graduating, Claypoole reaches out to younger and incoming students with this advice: “Enjoy every minute. Take advantage of every opportunity. Treasure every hug, every late-night Taco Bell trip, every dance party with your friends, every all-nighter studying, even every second spent crying over an exam – you’d be surprised how many things you will look back and know you will miss when you’re standing in my shoes as a senior.”