One of a Kind: Westminster Junior Pursues Unique One Health Major

As experts continue to debate the exact source of COVID-19, Westminster junior Shelby Harrison is sure to be at the forefront of similar scientific discussions as her future unfolds.

The Affton, MO, native is attending one of the only institutions in Missouri to offer the One Health major — an innovative field of science that is at the intersection of human, animal, and environmental health.*

“Majoring in One Health makes me feel whole, as if I am choosing the right path of life for myself that will not just help me make money but also will be what I love doing,” Harrison says.

For at least a decade, scientists have pushed for the development of One Health programs as animal-to-human disease transmissions have increased worldwide. With so few programs available, Harrison explains that she is fortunate she found a college that offers a major which matches with her diverse scientific interests. But finally declaring her major took a bit of time.

“I have been through a plethora of majors and minors, and for the life of me, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do,” Harrison reflects, adding that her advisor helped make her decision easier. “Then Dr. Holliday told me something that impacted me with incredible force: ‘Choose a career path that enables you to make a compelling difference in the world that YOU want to be a part of!’”

Today Harrison, who also is double-minoring in Psychology and Chemistry, couldn’t be happier. She says her diverse scientific interests may lead to veterinary school or another graduate program, but in the meantime, she is content that her passion for science is being nurtured at Westminster.

Currently Harrison also is concentrating on the many honor societies and clubs she belongs to at the College. She is a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society, Westminster’s Honors Program, Alati, Beta Beta Beta, Environmentally Concerned Students (ECoS), and the Hancock Symposium committee.

Harrison adds with characteristic abundant energy, “I hope to start a chemistry honors society after the craziness of the pandemic is over!”

With an eye to both her future and her past, Harrison is sure to credit her high school counselor for helping her choose Westminster College.

“Because of my amazing college counselor, Mary Giunta at Affton High School, I was able to tour multiple colleges and universities and choose the perfect fit for me,” Harrison says, adding with sincerity, “I owe her for all of my successes because, without her, I might be at a university that does not offer One Health and still be unsure and unhappy with my career choices.”

To learn more about the One Health major at Westminster College, please contact Dr. Dawn Holliday, Associate Professor of Biology, at 573-592-6125 or

*At the time of publishing, Westminster was one of few institutions in Missouri to offer the One Health Degree.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.