by Ben Konuch, Student Public Relations Writer
Sierra Bognear was on the fast track to entertainment and modeling stardom. With a modeling contract with Nike in hand and after being crowned Miss Michigan, Bognear’s professional future was bright.
She attended the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and the Academy of Art University in San Fransisco to pursue an acting career. All signs pointed to a career for her in front of fans and media cameras.
But something wasn’t right for the Novi, Michigan, native. As much as she enjoyed acting and modeling, she didn’t feel called to those vocations. In what some would consider an abrupt decision, Bognear ended her acting and modeling career and began a career in medicine, which eventually led her to enroll in the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy in Ohio. In her heart, she wanted to be in the medical profession helping others — much like other health care workers provided medical assistance for her younger brother, who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome when she was 6 years old.
“At the time the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him,. I remember going back and forth with my mom in the hospital saying I know the people in the white coats can help him,” said Bognear. “I knew from that time that someday I was going to be a doctor or in medicine.”
While her desire to perform in the entertainment industry took her in a different direction, Bognear knew God was calling her into the medical field — even if she didn’t yet know the exact details.
As a beauty pageant winner in Michigan, Bognear later competed in the Miss World Competition, and soon thereafter, discovered an incredible opportunity at Henry Ford Hospital. A position became available to aid in surgical pathology and she quickly accepted the opportunity.
“God was able to fulfill both of the desires of my heart, first with being in entertainment and now with being in pharmacy,” Bognear said. “Some might say I was delayed in getting here, but I believe God was right on time in how he grew me through experiences and cultivated relationships with people who taught me how to love others and serve them well.”
This radical shift in careers was a big step of faith in Bognear’s spiritual journey as well as her medical one. She followed her time at Henry Ford Hospital by spending time contributing to cancer research efforts at Tempus Labs in Chicago during COVID and later to the University of Michigan where she assisted in dermatology and oncology research.
While Bognear was new to the medical field, her desire to serve the underserved was not.
When she was still participating in pageants, Bognear started the Girls With a Purpose nonprofit organization that encourages young women to pursue their dreams while also helping victims of sexual exploitation and homelessness. This advocacy and service continued as Bognear moved to the medical field, but it was her desire to serve others on a personal level that led her toward personal care over medical research.
In 2019, when her niece experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm, Bognear knew she couldn’t sit idly by any longer. It was time for her to vigorously pursue options to begin her medical career, and that meant earning an advanced degree in a health care profession.
Four years later, after an initial interest in Cedarville University’s physician assistant program, she selected Cedarville’s Doctor of Pharmacy program, in part due to the connections and conversation with its faculty. It was her interest in investing in her community through service and building relationships that tipped her from the PA program to pharmacy.
“Sierra took on an extremely ambitious load just to make it to pharmacy school in the time between her decision and the start of this semester,” said Dr. Aleda Chen, associate dean and professor of pharmacy practice. “She took all the science and math prerequisites to immerse herself in the health sciences all while transitioning out of her job in the medical field and preparing to start this new chapter.”
As Bognear has overcome many difficulties in order to start her studies at Cedarville, she doesn’t want to be stagnant during her time in the pharmacy program. The same desire to serve others that led her into pharmacy is guiding her in her time at Cedarville as well.
“Sierra has been a part of a team of students who help plan our internal events to support our diverse students and promote spiritual growth within the pharmacy program ,” added Chen. “She has also helped with planning external events that are intended to attract junior high and high school students interested in the health profession as a career. It’s clear she has a love of the medical field and an even greater love for others.”
Her path to a career in health care has taken many turns. Throughout the journey, Bognear has been steadfast in her commitment to serve others, just like the medical professionals who have helped her younger brother.
“You don’t typically associate a beauty pageant girl with being smart or helping others, and that was something I had to overcome,” said Bognear. “But it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you’ve pursued in the past, if God is calling you to a purpose, then you should do it —- and do it fearlessly. Be determined, be bold and don’t let any of life’s circumstances stop you from following after what you love.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 5,456 undergraduate, graduate, and dual enrolled high school students in more than 175 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs such as the Bachelor of Sciences in Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Doctor of Pharmacy, high graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and the #4 national ranking by the Wall Street Journal for student engagement. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.