Majors: Molecular and Cell Biology, Child Health and Development (individualized)
Class Standing: Senior
Describe your history at UConn.
I started at UConn in fall of 2012 as a Biological Sciences major in the honors program. I joined Rubyfruit within the first two weeks of college and have been with the group ever since. In sophomore year, I joined a molecular biology research lab, which inspired me to switch my major from general Biology to Molecular and Cell Biology. In junior year, I founded a club called Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program at UConn. Now, in my senior year, I am in the process of doing my honors thesis project and finishing my requirements for both majors.
What interests you about your majors?
I switched to Molecular and Cell Biology because it focused on the small-scale aspects of biology, and these topics were harder for me to grasp. I figured that I should really focus my academics on the subjects that confuse me so that I could understand it better. I also pursued a Child Health and Development major in order to incorporate more social sciences that are relevant to a career in pediatric healthcare. This major is individualized so I was able to include classes from sociology, psychology, and HDFS.
Can you give us some background on the UConn Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP) and your role in implementing it?
I heard about KDSAP in the summer of 2014 when I was doing a nephrology research internship at Harvard Medical School. All of the interns were asked to participate in a kidney screening event, where we welcomed community members in to have their kidney health evaluated. Some of the components of this evaluation include a family health history, height and weight measurements, urinalysis, and blood pressure check. The experience was so moving that I thought it would be a great cause to bring to UConn. In the fall of 2014, I asked a few of my friends that were interested in pursuing careers in healthcare whether they thought it was a good idea, and almost all of them were on board with it. So, we applied to become an official organization and were accepted. Now, we have about 20 active members and are planning our first kidney screening in April of 2016.
Can you tell us a little about the thesis you’re working on as an Honors student?
The project that I am doing focuses on the mechanisms that govern muscle development and regeneration in adult mice. Specifically, I am interested in a gene called MyoD that plays a role in muscle regeneration when a muscle is injured. There are certain gene enhancers that trigger the activation of the MyoD gene, so I am experimenting with different regions of the gene that might be important in its expression in adult mice.
Can you tell us about your internship with Harvard Medical School?
The internship was organized by Harvard Medical School and I worked directly with doctors and professors from Harvard Med. I worked in a pediatric nephrology lab in Boston Children’s Hospital.
How did you obtain it?
Truthfully, I was discouraged because I had applied to a few other internships; one at MIT and one at URI and did not get accepted to either. My research advisor, Dr. Goldhamer, sent me a link to the internship that he had heard about and said it wouldn’t hurt to apply. So I applied, and a few weeks later I received an email that I had been selected as an intern for the summer of 2014.
What was your favorite part?
My favorite part was the trip to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, where several interns from across the country gathered to present their research projects. I got to meet so many interesting people, learn more about nephrology, and explore the beautiful city of Nashville.
What was the most challenging aspect of it?
The most challenging part was the timing; we were asked to complete a research project in less than eight weeks. If you told that to any experienced scientific researcher, they would think that’s crazy because it is. I had to work 12-14 hour days sometimes, which challenged me but it certainly paid off in the end.
What have you found to be most rewarding from your internship and leadership experience?
I think one of the most rewarding parts of both my internship and my leadership experience on campus is getting to meet people who have the same interests as me. With each new person I meet, I learn something new about myself simply by conversing with them and working with them. It’s really great to connect with people based on your academic and career interests, because everyone has a different perspective and I’ve gained a lot from the people that I’ve met through my internship and involvement at UConn.
How has the Center for Career Development (CCD) helped you in achieving your educational and career goals?
The CCD has helped me revise my resume several times, informed me about upcoming career fairs, and has really just opened up my eyes to all of the opportunities that exist in the world. There are so many job offerings on the HuskyCareerLink that I never knew existed but actually sound like a good fit for me. Also, though I haven’t used this resource yet, I plan to set up practice interviews to prepare myself for future job and graduate school interviews.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would like to be working in the healthcare field, ideally as a clinical pediatric practitioner. I still have some school left; whether it be medical school, nursing school or physician assistant school, I hope that in 5 years I will be a certified clinical practitioner of some sort and I will be working with children in primary care.
What has been your favorite part about being a UConn student?
That’s a difficult question. I love the sense of community and the school spirit at UConn. I would have to say that being a member of a student body that is successful, motivated, and diverse makes me proud to be a UConn student. Every time I read the UConn Daily Digest or just walk through the Student Union, I see passionate students engaging in something they love, whether it be a fundraiser, an organization, research, sports, you name it. This is one of the things that I love about UConn.
Based on your experiences, what advice would you give your fellow students?
I would say a few things. First, take advantage of the resources that UConn has to offer. This includes the library databases, the Center for Career Development, the Q center, and the Office of Undergraduate research among SO many others. UConn has resources for everything whether it is related to academics, health, careers, etc. and students should take advantage of these resources while they have them.
Also, UConn is a great place for networking. Professors are almost always interested in getting to know their students, and they are great people to learn from and to keep in mind if you ever need a reference for jobs or graduate school applications. Fellow students are also great people to network with, so I would say appreciate everyone you meet at UConn and use this huge campus full of people to build a network that can help you in building a successful future.