Dr. Alyssa Taylor is a senior lecturer in the UW Department of Bioengineering. She received her B.S. in biological systems engineering from the University of California, Davis and her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia. Her teaching activities mainly involve developing, implementing, and evaluating core introductory and laboratory courses for undergraduates. She also co-facilitates the Capstone Design sequence.
“About two years into my Ph.D. work, my dad was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). For two years, he struggled as he lost his ability to move, speak and function. I had an extremely difficult time juggling the demands of graduate school, and maintaining my academic and research productivity as I was dealing with the inevitable loss of my family.
I persevered because I learned to be kind to myself, and to let others help me when they could. I learned when I needed to take time for my mental health; I would often take a “mental health day” sanctioned by my Ph.D. advisor, where I just did nothing. I spent time with friends and loved ones, and visited my dad a lot. When he passed, I took a leave of absence from graduate school to be with my mom and sister. I realized that my degree wasn’t going anywhere, and I knew I could put it on pause at this horrible time and come back to it at a later date. I returned to the University of Virginia about three months later, and I ended up graduating on time with the rest of my cohort.
From this experience, my advice is to maintain perspective on what really matters, in the grand scheme of things. Your mental and physical health are truly the most important things in life, along with your family and friends, and deserve to be prioritized.”