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From Olivetian to Eli: Lucas Sanor ’13 heads for Yale

Posted: May 08, 2013


Lucas Sanor, Class of 2013

Saxophone and microscope — Lucas Sanor ’13 enjoys the challenge of both instruments.

As this biology major from Chebanse, Ill., prepares to enter a doctoral program in genetics at Yale University, he pauses to reflect on his Olivet experience.

More than assignments

In the biological sciences department, Lucas worked closely with Dr. Janna McLean, professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Dr. Dwight Ginn, professor and department chair; Dr. Greg Long and Dr. Leo Finkenbinder, professors. He was also a member of Biophilic, the biology club on campus.

“My biology professors always had time for me,” he says. “We had a lot of good conversations about biology and casual conversations, too. I think of them as my friends as well as my professors.”

“I really enjoy Lucas’ sense of humor,” says Dr. Ginn. “One day in lab, the two of us were talking about scientists potentially creating chickens with reptilian characteristics. Chickens with dinosaur heads and legs quickly became our joke.”

Outside the laboratory, Lucas plays alto saxophone. While at Olivet, he played with the Marching Tigers and the Jazz Band. One of his best memories is being part of Show Choir.

“I was in the first Show Choir,” he recalls. “I played in the back-up band for this phenomenal group of singers that year. Our band was the best! While the singers were rehearsing choreography, we had so much fun just goofing around.”

Charting a course for the future

Lucas’ preparation for applying to and being accepted at Yale began at Olivet. One of his most significant educational experiences happened when an ONU grad helped him obtain a research internship in molecular genetics at Baylor in summer 2012

“Emily Waskow ['12], an Olivet alumna, helped me make the connections,” he says. “She had previously done an internship there. Baylor is now familiar with Olivet.”

Although he was also accepted at Cornell University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Duke University, Lucas chose Yale because of the more interesting options offered to him.

“I have 120 professors to choose from, and I’ll do lab rotations with three them. I’ll do my doctoral research in the lab that best suits my scientific interests.”

Time for a little nostalgia

What will he miss most about Olivet? True to his passions, Lucas answers, “The trees. There are no trees at Yale.” But he’s quick to add, “And my close friends from Olivet whom I respect and who respect me.”

Three scholarships made it possible for Lucas to come to Olivet. “My sister was in college at the same time I was,” he says. “These scholarships took a lot of financial pressure off my family. I’d like the donors to know that their gifts have been put to good use.”

During Commencement weekend, Lucas was recognized for his academic accomplishments and character as the 2013 Robert M. Milner Award recipient for outstanding male graduate.

“Olivet has prepared me well with theoretical knowledge of biology,” he says. “The advanced genetics course was the best thing that ever happened to me. That’s where I became familiar with standard genetic experimentation and methodology. I got all the experience I needed to be successful at Baylor and eventually at Yale.”


U.S. states represented among Olivet's student body, as well as 17 countries