Hometown: Portland, OR
High School: Sam Barlow High School
ASU Major: Bachelor of Science in molecular biosciences/biotechnology and Bachelor of Science in psychology
When I was first applying for colleges, Arizona State University was actually an afterthought. I decided to visit the school, mostly to get out of the Oregon rain. Once I arrived on campus and took a tour, I instantly fell in love with ASU. Everything about the campus just felt right, and I could see myself spending my college career here. Knowing I wanted to go into medicine, I quickly realized that all of the research positions and opportunities for clinical experience in the surrounding area would really benefit me. Involvement in the honors program also struck me as yet another way that attending ASU could improve my time as an undergraduate student. Most importantly, I knew that ASU was a school that would let me shape my college experience to be exactly what I wanted it to be, and that proved to be the deciding factor.
What activities are you involved in?
Employment: I have been lucky enough to have what I believe is one of the best jobs a science student could obtain as an undergraduate. Through the School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research (SOLUR) program, I was able to obtain a research position at the Biodesign Institute where I have been working in an oncology lab for the last two years. Through the SOLUR program, I have been able to be paid for an experience that is practically applicable to my life and will be extremely beneficial when I apply for medical schools.
Volunteer: Recently I was able to spend time volunteering at Good News Community Health Center in Portland, Ore. It was an incredible experience that showed me that medicine could still involve personal interaction beyond a five-minute talk with the doctor and really solidified my life goal of practicing medicine. I have volunteered at a variety of places. My volunteer experience included work for St. Vincent de Paul in downtown Phoenix to spending time mentoring a group of middle school students through a local church.
Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED): ASU's health preprofessional honor society has been a part of my entire college career. Through this group I have been able to get plugged in to a number of community service opportunities, learn practical skills through activities like the annual suture clinic, and have learned about the entire process of becoming a doctor, from the pre-med experience all the way through medical school.
Honors Devils: Honors Devils is a small organization that gives tours and performs other recruiting duties for Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. Through this organization I have not only been able to share my love for my school with prospective students, but have also held the position of co-president. This experience was a contributing factor to improvement of my leadership and communication skills.
Camp Kesem: Although I'm new to this organization, it has quickly become one of my favorite parts of life at ASU. Those of us involved in the organization fundraise and plan for a summer camp for local kids with a parent who has or has had cancer, and a group of us goes on to be counselors at the camp. It really is a great cause, and it is an awesome feeling to be involved with something that gives back so much to the community.
Health Devils: An organization made up of pre-health students who assist the Health Professions Advising Office with a number of recruiting events and opportunities for current pre-health students.
Obama Scholars Mentor Program: Another new organization that pairs students receiving the President Barack Obama Scholarship with experienced ASU students or faculty members in a mentoring relationship to help them achieve success during the first year of the transition to college.
Best thing about ASU
ASU matches academic quality with quantity of opportunity in a way that many smaller schools are unable to provide. Becoming involved is very easy. It is almost always more a matter of just going out and finding positions more than it is about competing for them. Research opportunities are endless, from on-campus research to surrounding institutions like TGen and the Barrow Neurological Institute. There are also a significant number of hospitals near ASU where one can become involved. Perhaps most importantly for pre-health students, the Health Professions Advising Office at ASU provides a number of resources to help tackle the (sometimes) daunting task of preparing for professional school in the health sciences. The point is, ASU is a place where you can shape your entire experience to fit your own personal and professional goals. That is the biggest reason I chose to come to this school, and four years later I still find it to be true.
Advice for students considering the pre-health program
Never be afraid to explore your interests. A lot of students are actually shocked to learn they don't have to be biology majors to go on to a professional school in the health sciences. I spent time dabbling in six different majors before I found degrees that I loved. Looking back, I wish I would have taken classes in a variety of disciplines in my first year at ASU so that I might have discovered these interests sooner.
Don't lock yourself into any sort of "I have to major in..." scenario. Explore all of your interests in your first year to see where you'll enjoy your time the most. Remember, only about 60 percent of medical school students are life science majors. That being said, it's important to find a major you really enjoy rather than the one you think you need to be in. If you love what you're doing, even the hardest classes become easier, and you'll graduate from ASU knowing that you took a path that you chose, rather than one you felt was cut for you. That's what the undergraduate experience is really all about.