“With the help of my high school teachers, I became interested in chemistry and biology. I got into the Department of Bioengineering as a direct freshman admit, but at that time, I didn’t really know what bioengineering was. During the summer before freshman year of college, I started researching yeast evolution at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. While I enjoyed the experience, I also knew biology research wasn’t for me. I wanted to incorporate more areas of science such as medicine and chemistry, and wanted to apply the knowledge I learned. I started to look at bioengineering more seriously, which allowed me to bring many science fields into one major.
However, I was worried that I would fail my math classes and get kicked out of the bioengineering major. I wasn’t sure I was strong enough in math to major in engineering. I was scared of the subject, and math just seemed daunting to me. I started reflecting on my mistakes and challenged myself into taking higher level classes such as MATH 307 and 308, and actually loved those classes! I found math to be elegant and decided to get a math minor because I wanted to take more math classes. I wasn’t satisfied with just stopping there, and so I continued to take the classes that interested me and ended up double majoring in math.
I will graduate in the spring and am planning on taking a couple years off before going to grad school to get a Ph.D. In these gap years, I hope to get a better understanding of how I want to advance my education. I am interested in bioengineering, but am also interested in a more computational field where I could use my math background more.
Aside from academics, my college experience has been shaped by my love for mentoring others. I am currently a peer advisor for the bioengineering department. I help prospective and current students navigate the department as a whole with scheduling, finding research labs, and even applying to the major. I also participate in outreach events where I share what bioengineering is to underrepresented and minority students.
Another way I am able to mentor others is by teaching. I started tutoring students in math and computer programming, and felt joy watching the students start to understand the material. I was then given the opportunity to teach pre-calculus and a Python workshop over the summer where I designed the curriculum and gave them exams. I also became a TA for BIOEN 326 in the fall of my senior year. These experiences tutoring and teaching gave me a greater appreciation of the hard work professors do.
The Department of Bioengineering consists of a broad and diverse curriculum, and I now realize that it can consist of anything related to biology and medicine. We are exposed to many different subjects, and I don’t believe you can be a master of all these subjects. From this experience, I am no longer scared of topics that I don’t know. I gained problem solving skills, and can now jump into a problem head on, instead of shying away from things that I don’t know or am not comfortable with. I learned that not everything has to be perfect, and it is okay to fail. Everyone struggles and it is more important to learn from mistakes than to try to be perfect all the time.”