Senior contemplates ideal life


Photo courtesy of Anrich Vandersmit

Larissa Huissen is a senior at the University of North Alabama. Huissen studies biology.

Jonathan Hatchett, Staff Writer

Hatchett sat down with 22-year-old senior biology major Larissa Huissen for this Q&A.

Hatchett: Where are you from? 

Huissen: Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

Hatchett: What do you hope to accomplish in life?

Huissen: Career wise, I hope to finish dental school with a DMD/PhD. Later in life, I’d like to have a position as a dental professor where I can teach classes, work in the clinic and have my own research lab. I hope to make important contributions to the scientific literature about the oral microbiome and phage-bacteria interactions. Of course, I have other non-career related goals. I’ll always be working to strengthen my relationship with God. I hope to have a family. I want to travel. And at some point, I’d love to learn how to play piano. I want to live a life that’s full of new challenges and adventures that I can share with great people by my side.

Hatchett: Who are your biggest supporters? 

Huissen: My parents are deeply supportive of my pursuits. There’s always been a big emphasis on education in my family and they’ve really nurtured a genuine love of learning. 

Hatchett: Who inspires you?

Huissen: I think it’s so important to surround yourself with people who inspire you. You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with so you should make sure those people bring out the best in you. So to answer the question, my friends inspire me. They’re all accomplishing such amazing things while being supportive and holding me accountable to my own dreams. 

Hatchett: What do you like to do in your free time? 

Huissen: When I have a lighter workload, I like to sing in choir in my free time. I’ve sang in all the different choirs at UNA and I’ve sang at a few churches as well. There’s something deeply satisfying about choral music. The way you breathe together and match vowels as one. It’s a great example of the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Hatchett: What could you talk someone’s ear off about? (Alternatively: What is your favorite thing?)

Huissen: I’m really interested in microbiology and biochemistry. I could talk someone’s ear off about DNA and protein synthesis. It almost sounds disingenuous but I really think it’s amazing that every species on earth uses the same genetic code to string together amino acids into proteins of varying complexity. Life and all its diversity can be summed up to a series four different nucleotides. How crazy is that?!