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The Gift of Life | Ohio Sea Grant

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The Gift of Life

10:25 am, Mon February 28, 2022 – Rebecca Groch is currently a second-year family medicine resident at Novant Health Center in Charlotte, NC

Rebecca Groch

Dr. Rebecca Groch

Once a self-described “bleeding heart,” Rebecca Groch never thought she’d have the career she does today. After attending medical school at Central Michigan University, Becca is currently a 2nd year family medicine resident at Novant Health Center in Charlotte, NC. Thanks to a day at Stone Lab fifteen years ago, Becca’s interests were drastically changed.

“That was my first real experience with science where I thought, maybe that this is something that I want to do for a living—this is cool, this is exciting.”

Up until the eighth grade, Becca “was always more of an English person” when it came to her studies, but one day in 2007 would change that for her. “I don’t think science was actually a thing for me, until that day.”

That day was the annual talk of Whiteford Agricultural Middle School in Ottawa Lake, Mich. — a field trip to Stone Lab.

“Our eighth grade field trip with Mrs. Bixler to Stone Lab was always the most anticipated trip from the moment we entered middle school,” Becca expressed in a letter she wrote to her former educator and field trip coordinator, Sue Bixler.

Becca remembers the field trip clearly, recounting lessons involving invasive species, analyzing microorganisms, and collecting data in the field. The moment that changed everything for her, however, was the dissection portion of the trip.

“I will never forget my hesitation to participate in the fish dissection,” Becca continues in her letter to Bixler, now a Stone Lab education associate. “I didn’t feel like it was something I could do. However, with encouragement from the staff, I was able to complete the dissection and got my first taste of anatomy — even if it was a fish.”

Before the dissection, Becca remembers the staff encouraging her and her classmates to thank the fish for giving its life — a practice that has influenced her respect for life itself. In respect to her research, Becca applies similar principles, explaining, “once you have that experience with the dead and you get comfortable with it, you appreciate them for what they are — people.”

ARTICLE TITLE: The Gift of Life PUBLISHED: 10:25 am, Mon February 28, 2022