My Winthrop Experience


Name: Natalie Mseis '18
Residence: Indiana, formerly Jerusalem
Degree: Biology major, chemistry minor
Occupation: Grad student, University of Notre Dame

For Palestinian-born Natalie Mseis '18, Winthrop University was a small place that made a big impact.

As she prepares to pursue her doctorate at the University of Notre Dame this fall, the recent grad says her intimate experiences at Winthrop have primed her to walk confidently onto Notre Dame's colossal campus. She will navigate her new surroundings, much like she did when she first moved to the United States in 2012 to start her post-secondary education. She began at Scott Community College in Iowa and two years later transferred to Winthrop.

"During my last semester at Scott Community College, I started thinking about applying to a four-year university to continue my education. I never thought about applying to a small four-year institution. However, throughout my years at the community college, I discovered that I would actually benefit more if I go to a small university," Mseis said.

Those benefits turned out to be: smaller class sizes, one-on-one engagement with professors and access to numerous resources.

"Winthrop provided me with all the tools that enabled me to reach to where I am my experience as a student there was very rich at all levels," she said.

Mseis majored in biology with a minor in chemistry and credits the science department for allowing her to spread her wings into research.

"Doing research in Dr. (Matthew) Stern's lab was one of my most memorable experiences at Winthrop. Conducting research didn't just improve my scientific knowledge, but it also made me more confident and taught me how to be patient and gave me the opportunity to make lifetime friends. The people in Stern's lab are like my second family," she said.

Born and raised in Jerusalem, Mseis knew she needed a certain level of support in South Carolina with her family so far away and added that diversity on campus was important as an international student. She immediately became involved at Winthrop and participated in extracurricular activities.

"I joined DSU for a year and it was one of the best experiences that I had. This, in fact, taught me how to think outside of the box by learning and seeing from other people's perspectives," she added.

Those experiences boosted her academically despite her learning challenges and Dalton Hall became her second home, where she discovered a love for research and understanding complex scientific papers. She acknowledges that Winthrop prepared her well for Notre Dame, where she plans to study under the biological sciences department.

"Natalie is a tremendously hard-working student who has earned every bit of her success. I think her experience at Winthrop can serve as an outstanding model for others. Here's an international student who takes a circuitous route to Winthrop and once she gets here decides to totally immerse herself in everything Winthrop has to offer," Stern said. "Natalie made every effort to maximize her Winthrop experience, and when you have the combination of a dedicated student and a supportive environment that offers so many opportunities for students to pursue their goals, it's pretty fun to see the results."

Mseis eventually wants to become a research scientist in a hospital like St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or a professor at a university like Winthrop, of course. She plans to maintain contact with the university.

"After two or three years of conducting research in graduate school, it would be my pleasure to come and give presentations to undergraduate students," she said. "After earning my Ph.D., I would love, at some point, to become a visiting professor."

Future students may have the opportunity to take "Dr. Mseis" for biology one day. Until then, she encourages current students and young alumni  to be courageous and to persevere.

"Nothing is impossible and everything is possible when you set your mind on it," she said.

Mseis shares more about her Winthrop experience in her own personal blog. You can read more here.