Dr. Patricia Lutz, assistant professor in Regent University’s College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), knew Jonee Lillard was bright. The freshman Biophysical Sciences major scored 100 percent on all of her tests in her chemistry class. But, when Lutz looked at the final scores of a national test she administers at the end of the semester, she was shocked to see a student score a perfect 70 out of 70. Lillard aced the two-hour test from the American Chemical Society, the first student to do so among nearly 4,000 students who have taken the exam in the past two years.
“I knew she was bright when she came into class,” said Lutz. “She went to high school at Greenbrier Christian Academy and came into my class with a lot of chemistry knowledge. She’s a strong Christian and very sweet. She stays after and helps wash lab dishes after lab. I was anxious to see how she’d do on the exam. I knew she’d score well, but I wasn’t expecting a perfect score.”
“This is the Lord’s doing,” said Lillard. “It’s a marvel in our eyes, mine included. I did not expect the perfect score on the ACS exam. We prayed for it. I studied for it. I bought the official study guide and looked through it in the weeks leading to the exam. The night before, I worked through the entire study book.”
Lillard lives in Portsmouth, Virginia. When praying about what college she would choose, she visited Regent several times and says everything lined up perfectly. She’s always loved science and eagerly entered Regent’s Biophysical Sciences program. She says she’s still praying and considering a scientific career to pursue.
“I’m considering the medical field,” said Lillard. “I’ve always been interested in anatomy. I read an article in the EVMS (Eastern Virginia Medical School) magazine about the shortage of doctors in small towns and rural areas. It is a possibility I’m still open to.”
Both Lillard and another student scored 100 percent on all of Lutz’s tests throughout the semester, even after she added more difficult questions to make them more challenging. Lutz joined Regent with the launch of its Biophysical Sciences program three years ago and says the students in her fall chemistry class are particularly high achieving. Before Lillard, the highest score she saw a student return on the national test was a 90 percentile or 53 out of 90. In her diverse class of 15 students this fall, she saw a 65 out of 70 and a 94 percentile score in addition to the perfect.
“They are coming here bright,” said Lutz. “I feel like God is calling top students to come to this program to become doctors, scientists, and researchers who will be cream of the crop. It’s been so exciting. I hear students talk about how they came here after thinking about other schools, but God kept telling them to come here. We have top teachers and lawyers. Now God is saying it’s time to send graduates to the science and medical fields.”
Lutz says she inspires her students by teaching them about other Christians who are scientists who integrate their faith into their research. Spring 2017 will see the first class of graduates from Regent’s Biophysical Sciences program. So far the program has had students earn internships at NASA, EVMS, and in Israel.