StoutStories: Molly Roettger

An undying motivation and scholarship help ABMB student graduate early.
Abbey Goers | December 11, 2019

Molly Roettger, a junior anticipating early graduation in December 2020, is a dynamic personality. Her informed perspectives and easy-going laugh offer thought-provoking and pleasant conversation.

But Roettger, an Applied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ABMB) major, believes her best quality and the biggest key to her academic success is her undying motivation.

From her love and care of small creatures to her academics to anticipating her future career in dentistry, Roettger remains intensely focused on her goals.

Even the Smallest Things Matter

Roettger found her motivation in her early childhood, rescuing frogs from a neighbor’s pool. She began her first research project to understand why the pool water made the frogs sick.

“Nobody else seemed to care, so I decided I would be the one to care for them,” Roettger said.

Discovering amphibians breathe through their skin, Roettger understood the chlorinated water was harmful to the frogs’ health and helped them recover. These aquatic rescues introduced Roettger to the fields of chemistry and biology.

Molly Roettger is photographed in a chemistry lab in Jarvis Hall.

Motivation and Making Sacrifices

Roettger’s passion for science emerged in high school during her chemistry and biology classes. When declaring her major at UW-Stout, she didn't want to have to pick between the two fields. Entering ABMB was perfect.

Roettger has made several sacrifices to graduate early. Even though she brought in 26 credits at the start of her college career, Roettger knew she would need to take a heavy course load.

Her advisor, Dr. Ana Magdalena Vande Linde, said Roettger is only the second student she recalls having started at UW-Stout with more than 20 credits. To stay on track for early graduation, Dr. Vande Linde helped Roettger devise a schedule with the most compacted credit-load as possible. With 21 credits during one semester of her sophomore year, her classes went from 8:00 am to 7:35 pm.

Roettger also needed to remain on track to graduate early due to personal finances. After three years, she would be out of funds. There have been semesters where she had to choose between having a meal every day and being able to afford next semester’s tuition.

“Being the kind of student that I am, I choose to pay the tuition and get free food whenever possible,” Roettger said.

When people hear the title of Roettger’s major, a common reaction is, "Wow, you must be really smart." But Roettger doesn’t attribute her academic achievements to raw intelligence.

“I enjoy studying the sciences, and I seem to learn it rather quickly and with ease,” Roettger said. “However, this does not mean I don't put in my work. I will not sleep peacefully at night unless I know my assignments for the next day are completed. I put in the extra time to make sure my projects are exceeding the expectations.”

Her GPA from last year is 3.935, and she continues to maintain solid grades.

Supporting Herself and Others

Outside of her busy course schedule, Roettger balances multiple jobs. Tutoring in the chemistry lab on campus, she enjoys seeing people learn and grow in their academic confidence, reigniting her motivation for helping others. Roettger believes helping her peers is another key to her success.

By working in the tutoring lab, I get to constantly review my previous classes as I help students who are currently in them,” she said. “It is a two-way benefit. As Phil Collins says, ‘In learning, you will teach, and in teaching, you will learn.’”

Roettger travels home on the weekends to work at Occasions with Character. She plays various princesses, heroes, and other characters at children's birthday parties and public events.

Sometimes, it is nice to just forget about school for a bit and live in the magical world of princesses and superheroes lit up with the imagination of children,” Roettger said.


UW-Stout recipients of the Steiner Milnes Scholarships, Fall 2019.

Hard Work Rewarded

This semester, Roettger was awarded the Steiner-Milnes scholarship for $3,350. This Steiner-Milnes scholarship has made a huge difference to her. Her course schedule was planned for her to graduate in three years. But a class was added to the ABMB program, and it's only offered once every two years.

“So I have to stay three-and-a-half years,” Roettger said. “Without the scholarship, I would have had to take a gap year between my third year and my last semester to work and save money for tuition.”

“The Steiner-Milnes scholarship is making a massive impact on my life. I am now able to finish my degree without taking a gap year to work,” Roettger said.

“My school takes pride in me.”

Roettger remembers many of her high school peers setting goals to go to big-name schools for a title they could take pride in. But Roettger didn't want to be just another number in the classroom. At Stout, her Professors know her by name, and she feels supported by her professors and peers.

Dr. Stephen Nold thinks Roettger is an unforgettable presence in the classroom.

“Molly is truly special, a highly motivated student with a flair for the eccentric,” Nold said. “I’m never sure what she will bring to class; great questions, insightful comments, or pom-pom headgear.”

“UW-Stout turned my life around!” Roettger said. “I don't need to take pride in a big-name school. My school takes pride in me.”

Pursuing Her Career in Dentistry

Roettger is pursuing pre-dentistry in her ABMB degree. She completed her internship with Intelligent Touch Dental Laboratory, a full-service dental lab. The lab builds high-quality crowns, bridges, implants, dentures, orthodontic appliances, and trinias.

“Intelligent Touch Dental Laboratory is a wonderful place full of wonderful people. I am very grateful for the experience I had working with them,” Roettger said.

Roettger also job shadowed at Hope Dental Clinic in the Twin Cities over Summer 2019. The clinic is volunteer-based, including the dentists and technicians. Roettger volunteers as a dental assistant.

“It is a clinic that provides dental care for people who cannot afford it. The dentists and other assistants are nice, and I enjoy working with the different patients,” she said.

Roettger’s motivation carries over to her work life, as well. She stays late at the clinic and takes the time to make sure the job is done right.

“I know that it is never okay to compromise the quality of the product,” Roettger said.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Roettger plans on attending dental school and will take her Dental Admissions Test (DAT) in January 2020.

And as for her compassion and motivation for saving small creatures? Well, that hasn’t changed. Roettger built a brackish tank in her room where she cares for small saltwater and freshwater fish, and an adopted fiddler crab.




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