Getting to the Heart of the Matter

“I came to Dordt because I was blown away by the friendliness, blatant love for Jesus Christ, and countless opportunities to get involved in a Christ-centered community both on campus and in Sioux Center,” says Lucy Borkowski.

She chose to major in biology because she knew she wanted to work in health care someday. “When Dordt added a public health major track, I immediately pursued that degree,” she says. “Helping others and building relationships with them is something that I am passionate about.”

She is also passionate about research. Borkowski has been integral in raising awareness regarding a genetic mutation in the Phospholamban (PLN) gene, which can cause heart arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in people of Frisian descent. Her work with the PLN genetic mutation awareness project first began as a Kielstra Center for Research and Grants summer research project alongside Professor of Biology Dr. Tony Jelsma and Professor of Nursing Dr. Debbie Bomgaars.

“I was intrigued by this project because it was a public health research project, and I was interested in learning more about a rare genetic condition that is prevalent in Northwest Iowa,” she says.

The summer research turned into part-time employment with the PLN Heart Foundation, based out of the Netherlands; she has been working for the organization ever since. Prior to Borkowski’s work, the PLN Heart Foundation only knew of about 20 people in the United States who had the condition; thanks to the hard work Borkowski has put in to raise awareness around the PLN gene, the organization is aware of more than three times as many people with the mutation in the United States alone.

“I even got to travel to Athens, Greece last May to give a presentation about my work and meet the international research team,” she says.

She is also involved in cross country and track and field at Dordt. “My favorite part of these activities is the opportunity to build relationships with teammates and coaches,” she says. “I love distance running, but the biggest takeaways I have from being a runner at Dordt are perseverance, patience, and digging deeper into my relationship with Jesus Christ with my heart, soul, mind, and body.”

One of her favorite forms of worship is being out in God’s creation, and having access to Dordt’s prairie has been a way for her to see the “magnificent display of His glory.”

“Not only do I run through the prairie every day, but when I need a quiet place to meditate, the prairie is where I turn to,” she says. “Some of my favorite cross-country races were run on this course, and some of the best sunrises and sunsets were experienced on this path. I can feel God’s presence here.”

Borkowski appreciates how her biology coursework has shown her that science and faith can intersect. “God is sovereign over all, and He was the one who created the cosmos; therefore, we have a responsibility as Christians to be stewards of His creation. While at Dordt, my courses and interactions with professors have indicated that as creatures, we can use science as a tool to get closer to the Creator.”

Borkowski will attend physical therapy school at University of South Dakota in Vermillion this fall; she is also getting married in the summer, so she’s staying quite busy.

“What I’ve enjoyed most about Dordt is growing in my faith alongside people who were on similar life journeys as myself,” she says. “I’ll remember memories made at cross country meets, countless hours spent in the labs, and meals shared at the Commons with friends, but I can honestly say that Dordt has shaped me into the person I am today, and it is because of God’s providence that I’m walking away from Dordt with a new perspective on life.”