Like so many Tarleton students, Camille Trautman came to Stephenville to pursue a career related to agriculture.

Then she got here and discovered her true passion. (Agriculture wasn’t it.)

At 1 p.m. Friday, May 10, she will not only receive her bachelor’s degree in biomedical science, she’ll make the commencement address on behalf of her fellow graduates.

“I used to be a horse trainer,” said Camille, who grew up in Allen. “I was told I needed to get a business degree to expand my horse training enterprise. There was a horse trainer near Tarleton who agreed to take me on as an apprentice, so I came here originally for a business degree.”

Like most freshmen, her core classes included a course in biology.

“It was super, super interesting stuff, something I really like, so I got in contact with some people in the biology department to see what direction I could take, and they just ran with it. I was in a lab in no time flat.”

Active in Alpha Epsilon Delta health preprofessional honor society as a student, Camille captured third place in a campus research competition and took first for research she presented last spring at the American Society of Microbiology.

While working on her research and, ultimately, her degree, she still had time to volunteer at an orphanage in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where she shared her love of science with the children there.

“It’s not even technically an orphanage,” she said. “It’s a place where parents can drop off their kids if the parents get incarcerated or just can’t care for their kids anymore. They don’t give up their rights as parents; they can leave their kids there if they lose their job, then come back and pick them up when they get back on their feet.”

At any given time, Camille says, there may be four adults overseeing 80 children who need guidance and attention. That’s where the student volunteers come in.

“We kind of let the adults have a little time off. We cook for the kids and hang out with them. We did one STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workshop where we extracted DNA from strawberries and showed them what that looked like under a microscope.”

Even though her educational path worked out differently than she planned, Camille is happy she wound up a Tarleton Texan.

“I was very fortunate to stumble across Tarleton because there is such good undergraduate research here. I’ve been involved in it since my freshman year, and it has opened up so many opportunities for me. There’s a lot of potential at Tarleton for people who are looking to get into research.”

She’s deciding on a Ph.D. program in neuroscience and hopes to work professionally in a research capacity. Despite her success in Tarleton’s College of Science and Technology, it was an academic shortfall that she drew on for her commencement address.

“It’s mostly about all the learning that comes from failure,” she said. “My senior year of high school, I failed out of the last half-credit class I needed to graduate. Stuff like that can seem like a huge blow that closes all these doors, when it could actually enable us to be better in lots of respects.”