“When I came to UW, I wanted to be pre-med, but I didn’t want to major in a basic science because I wanted to be able to do something that involved applying scientific principles, especially in research. My sister majored in biology and my brother was an engineer, so they suggested that I look into bioengineering.
Being a part of the bioengineering department has given me many unique opportunities, like being a TA for a lab class. When I was taking the bioengineering core classes, I thought that the TAs were at the top of their class and that you had to get a 4.0 in a class to get a TA position, but then I talked to the professors and they said that it matters more that you care and are willing to put in the time. It was interesting being on the other side of a classroom. It makes everything seem a lot less scary. When you’re taking a class, it seems terrifying and intimidating, but when you’re a TA you realize that there’s a lot of things that students worry about that they really shouldn’t have to.
Outside of BioE, I like to do volunteer work. I volunteer at Roots, the homeless shelter on the Ave, which is really fun. I also volunteer at a group called Side-by-Side, which is an organization that pairs you with children who are getting treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital. All of the patients we’re paired with are from out-of-state, so their family doesn’t have a support network here. As a volunteer you go and play with the kids, and if they are well enough you can take them to the zoo or the aquarium. Or if they’re not well enough then you do arts and crafts or other activities with them at Seattle Children’s. It’s really nice to give the parents a break and to distract them.
Balancing coursework with extracurriculars has definitely been a struggle, especially during junior year and during capstone, but over time I’ve been able to learn how to manage my time. I figured out that I’m the type of person who will fill my time with whatever I have. So if I have a really heavy course load and busy schedule then I am much better at allotting my time, but if I have a light course load or not a very busy schedule, then I’ll just spend forever on something that would normally take like an hour. I guess over time you learn more about how you work and you just get a lot better at figuring out what you should put most of your effort into and what you can worry less about.
Next year I’m going to be volunteering in Spokane at a home for mentally disabled adults. I think it will definitely give me more of an idea if medical school is right for me because I’ll be in an assisted living environment so I’ll be helping and treating many different people. After that I think I’ll probably do something like scribe work because I’m planning on applying to medical school during that year and then hopefully going to medical school after that.
My favorite part about majoring in bioengineering has been getting to know my professors and my cohort really well. While taking the bioengineering classes, staying up until 2 AM working on homework seemed miserable at the time, but I really got to know my cohort pretty well, so I enjoyed that.
I wish that when I came into BioE, I had known more about all of the different fields within bioengineering. I wish I had realized that in the major we would be sampling all of the different core engineering disciplines, just in a biological sense. My advice for future students considering bioengineering would be to really think about what they want to do with a bioengineering degree. If you have a very specific approach that you want to take with BioE, then there might be a different discipline that’s more applicable and where you can learn certain skills more in depth. If you don’t exactly know what you want to do with BioE, then it can be a really good introduction to different fields that you haven’t considered, and you might discover a new interest.”