Marissa Shumaker is a senior UW Bioengineering student from Austin, Texas. Rather than going the research route, Marissa has chosen to focus her time preparing for medical school. Through her volunteer work with several UW organizations, Marissa has discovered that she loves mentoring and teaching people.

What are you working on?

I was a research assistant in the Allbritton Lab last year focusing in part on data analysis of enzymatic reactions. After developing those skills, I decided to pursue the more patient-centric career of medicine.  As part of that path, I became more active in the Bioengineering and medical communities of UW. For example, last year I served as a Bioengineering major chair for the Society of Women Engineers UW.  And this year, as part of the Engineering First-year Interest Groups program, I and one other engineering peer educator (EPE) will facilitate a small class of freshman engineering students. The course is focused on helping students build community and explore the interdisciplinary nature of engineering so that they are confident they can achieve their goals in the different majors.  Additionally, I will be the fundraising chair for the UW Biomedical Engineering Society. I’ve also been involved with Health Care Alternatives Spring Break (HCASB) since my freshman year. Through HCASB, I have traveled to small communities, such as Omak, Wash., to learn about rural health care by shadowing health care professionals.

Marissa Shumaker with dog

What are your plans for the future?

I’m currently studying for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) because I’m hoping to go to medical school. I believe my volunteer activities focused on helping and teaching people provide a strong tie into medicine. I want to apply the skills I’ve learned in BioE to the medical side through working with patients as their advocate and educator.

What surprised you about the UW BioE?

The people surprised me. When I started in the BioE program it seemed very competitive, and then I realized professors really want to help you, and the other students were cooperative, not competitive. They want to help and support you.

Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself since being at the UW?

I’ve learned that I love mentoring and teaching people. It’s very satisfying helping people develop the confidence needed to succeed and follow their passions. None of my roommates are in the sciences, so it’s fun teaching them about medical issues in a way they can understand.

“It’s helpful knowing you have a support system in BioE.” – Marissa Shumaker

Has your community supported you and if so, how?

Yes. The professors have been very understanding and helpful. They have offered extra office hours and study sessions and they are willing to talk to you about anything school- or personal-related. It’s been helpful knowing you have a support system in BioE.

Any advice for people considering UW BioE?

Capitalize on your experiences and the opportunities the department has for you. It’s a close-knit community where everyone has unique skills and are interested in the BioE curriculum. Foster those connections because you never know where you’ll be in a few years when you may need them.

What do you like to do for fun outside of school?

I love trying new restaurants and new foods which, unfortunately, has been limited due to the pandemic. But I’m excited venues are starting to open up. I also enjoy exploring Washington since I’m not from here. Discovery Park and Carkeek Park are two of my favorite spots.