UD biological sciences, Spanish and liberal studies triple major Cullen Kisner earns University recognition
Maintaining perfect grades throughout college is no easy feat. Doing it while earning two degrees in three majors? Some may say it’s impossible. But Cullen Kisner, who graduated with an honors bachelor of science degree in biological sciences and an honors bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and libreral studies, did just that.
At the University of Delaware’s Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 28, Kisner — who is from Camden Wyoming, Delaware, and went to Caesar Rodney High School — was recognized as the High Index Senior among her graduating peers.
The award recognizes the graduating senior who has achieved the highest grade-point index, earned in full-time study toward a degree, which combines grade point average with the highest number of earned hours taken in residence at UD. Blue Hens earning a single degree must complete their program in four years, and students pursuing multiple, simultaneous degrees must complete their studies in five years or less.
Kisner completed her two degrees in four years.
“I've worked so hard the last four years, so this award is kind of like the pinnacle of everything that I've done, because obviously being at the top of a huge graduating class is a really high honor, so it feels good,” she said.
Kisner is also an active member of numerous clubs on campus, including the Blue Hen Leadership Program, QUEST, Phi Delta Epsilon, Alpha Xi Delta and Impact Dance Company.
She said the key to her success is staying organized.
“It's really about scheduling. I religiously live by my calendar,” she said. “I write everything down, and I block in times when I study or times when I don't have anything to do and can do something fun. It's really just planning ahead and knowing your schedule, because you can fit it all in.”
After graduation, Kisner will attend Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. In her future career, she plans to work with Spanish-speaking patients in her practice as a doctor.
Finding mentors on campus — both in and out of the classroom — has been critical to her success and is something she will take with her to medical school.
“My biggest piece of advice is to find mentorship opportunities — that can be with professors or with other students,” she said. “I did the Blue Hen Leadership Program when I was a first-year student coming to campus, and that mentorship was key in setting me up for success from day one when I started classes. I've learned a lot through making connections with my professors and how important those are in helping you succeed, so that's definitely something I’m going to prioritize when I get to medical school.”
Kisner said it’s also important to admit when you’re struggling so that you can get help when you need it.
“Sometimes, if you're an overachieving student like I am, it's hard to say, ‘I don't know this or I'm not getting this,’ just because you feel like you should be, and other people are getting it, and you're like, ‘Why am I not?’” she said. “I think talking to your professor, classmates or TA [teaching assistant] and just telling them when you're struggling is important, because often they have the resources to help you and guide you and can give you extra help when you need it.”
In addition to excelling in her courses and participating in extracurricular activities on campus, Kisner still found time to do activities all UD students enjoy — studying on The Green, going to the UDairy Creamery with her friends, and going to coffee shops and restaurants on Main Street in Newark.
Kisner said she’s proud of all that she’s accomplished during her time at UD but acknowledged that she wouldn’t have been able to do it without a strong support system.
“I’d like to give a big thank you to my family for supporting me, because I definitely would not be here without my mom and my grandmother,” she said. “My professors have also been really key in pushing me to succeed.”