SM Northwest grad Isabel Dory’s future career combines biomedical science with her passion for art

A 2020 grad of SM Northwest, Isabel Dory will pursue a career in biomedical illustration. She's headed to Rowan University in New Jersey to begin her undergraduate studies.

An avid young artist and 2020 graduating senior at Shawnee Mission Northwest, Isabel Dory is on a unique career path that combines her passion for drawing with the sciences.

Dory is slated to attend Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, this fall. The university is 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia. There, she will study biomedical illustration. The program involves drawing the anatomy of biological subjects, includings humans, animals and plants.

“It’s definitely an unusual major,” Dory said. “There’s only, like, three to four schools in the country that offer that as an undergrad, so it’s a very niche major.”

Dory’s studies will train to work for any number of companies and organizations, from a doctor’s office to a museum to a personal injury law office.

“I’ve always loved art; I’ve been drawing for my whole life, basically,” Dory said. “I definitely wanted to pursue some sort of career in art, but as I got into high school, I started taking a lot of science classes and I really enjoyed those.”

Ultimately, though, it was her grandfather, Bill Snooks, a well-traveled family member living in the Kansas City area, who encouraged her to explore a career in medical illustration. His friend’s daughter is on a similar career path.

For her junior and senior years, Dory participated in the International Baccalaureate program, during which she took a wide range of advanced courses, including a Theory of Knowledge philosophy class with Meghan Stigge, the school librarian. A student-athlete, Dory also competed in high school diving and gymnastics.

Like many seniors, Dory felt the “rocky transition” when the semester came to an unusual and abrupt halt during the COVID-19 shutdown this spring. But she credits her teachers for adapting well, since much of her coursework was already online and her more interactive classes kept meeting on Zoom.

Regardless of the unusual ending to her high school career, Dory said she’s thankful her teachers pushed her to pursue her interests over the past four years.

“I can’t speak to all of the teachers at Shawnee Mission Northwest, but as far as all of the teachers that I’ve had, they’ve been incredibly helpful with not only schoolwork but just shaping us as people,” Dory said. “They’ve all been super encouraging, you know, telling us to go for what we want and not be afraid to try new things or take new classes. They’re just really amazing people, and I sincerely want to thank them so much for all of the work that they’ve done for us.”