By Daniel Morgan, Editor
Softball outfielder Nicki Mihalik is wrapping up her final year at West Liberty University. She’s been through an exciting journey on the hilltop, and she’s learned to grow and discover her true potential while finding the humor in things each step of the way.
Originally from Johnstown, Pa., Mihalik graduated from Richland Jr./Sr. High School. She’s studying biology because of her initial love for the outdoors.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I always had a strong interest in science and living things,” Mihalik said. “My pap and I were always outdoors exploring, and that really got me into it.” Of course, it took her a while to decide just what she wants to pursue after graduation, but she’s on her way to do some good in the biomedical field.
After WLU, she will begin working towards her Ph.D. in West Virginia University’s Biomedical Sciences Program. Her time working and researching in West Liberty’s biology department has helped Mihalik pinpoint what she wants to achieve.
“I wanted to use science in an impactful way by helping others, even if it was indirectly,” Mihalik said. “I hope to someday be able to work for a pharmaceutical company as a researcher to help develop new and better drugs for the treatment of cancer. I am currently working with Dr. Horzempa and Dr. Schmitt in testing the microbial efficacy of an antibiotic called resazurin and looking to determine its mechanism of action.”
But before she can reach her career goals, she has another job to finish before graduation. Mihalik is in the middle of her final softball season on the Hilltop.
“In my very first softball practice, I threw the ball at the runner because I thought it was like when we played kickball in gym class!” Mihalik fondly remembered. “But, I remember being the first one on my team to catch a pop-up in a game, and soon enough that little girl who fell in love with the game was born.”
Ten years later, Mihalik was searching for the perfect school with a strong biology program to attend, and West Liberty University was ultimately her pick. She was recruited as a pitcher, however, and she had a rough start to her college career.
“This transition presented some tough battles for me, however, it taught me more about myself than I could ever have imagined, and it also taught me a tremendous amount of invaluable life lessons that I will carry with me,” Mihalik said. “The journey made me who I am today, and looking back, I couldn’t be more grateful. That’s one of the reasons why I love the game; it teaches you so much more than just how to hit a ball or make a play.”
Mihalik has certainly endured a full journey at West Liberty University from changing positions on the field and discovering her true potential in the lab to binge-watching “Dexter” on Netflix.
Through it all, she keeps a positive outlook and makes sure to enjoy a laugh or two. “There is a time to be serious, but I think that keeping the humor in things is important,” she said.
Photos provided by Nicki Mihalik