Student Insider: Farrah Fong Part 2

We're back with more of Farrah Fong's STEM and medical school stories and advice for you! Keep reading to discover her insights on how to study and overcome study guilt!

 Image courtesy of Farrah Fong

Image courtesy of Farrah Fong

Evolvher: What were the biggest challenges in med school and how did you overcome them?

Farrah Fong: The biggest challenge for me was probably the sheer volumes of information we were expected to learn in a very short amount of time—something that our professors often referred to as trying to “drink water out of a fire hydrant,” a pretty accurate comparison.

Developing an effective study method and schedule was absolutely crucial, and learning to be adaptable also helped a lot. There will likely be times where study methods that have previously worked might not be as effective, so learning to roll with the punches makes a big difference. I experienced a lot of study guilt (feeling guilty whenever I was doing something that wasn’t studying), but taking periodic breaks is also extremely important! Having a great support system was also key—I went into study hibernation before taking my boards, and am very thankful that I had such understanding and supportive friends and family!

Evolvher: Many high school students think they need to decide on a career before they graduate and go to college. Advice for them?

Farrah Fong: I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for you to know what you want to go into before you go to college—I feel like college is where you get a wealth of opportunities to explore your interests so you can figure out what you want to do with your life. In high school, just try to do well so that you can get into a good college.

Evolvher:  If you work hard and have stellar grades, does it matter if you don’t go to a top-tier/Ivy League school?

Farrah Fong: I definitely think it absolutely does not matter whether or not you go to a top-tier/Ivy League school. Medical school is expensive enough as it is—there’s no need to add even more to that debt early on. Go to a decent school and do your best to get great grades and a competitive MCAT score. Get research experience if possible, and find professors, physicians and/or mentors who can write you strong recommendation letters. Find a cause you’re passionate about and volunteer for it. Shadow physicians so you can get a feel for what life as a physician would be like, and try to get some volunteer experience involving direct patient care if you can.

Evolvher: After 4+ years of hard work, many seniors in college feel burned out. Advice on how and when to pursue a graduate degree?

Farrah Fong:  By all accounts, I probably should have felt burned out during and after college. I talked my deans into eliminating my unit cap so that I could take as many classes as I wanted. In my four years, I took over a hundred courses, was the officer of two clubs, worked 2-3 part-time jobs, and also volunteered at 1-2 hospitals and a clinic. Music was my “de-stress” major (which isn’t to say that it never stressed me out, but it was a great outlet), and I used my extra-curriculars as breaks from studying. (This is why I’m such a big advocate for finding a balance—my extra-curriculars helped to keep me sane.)

I took a gap year in between undergrad and graduate school to do an informal postbac program because I was trying to save money. I enrolled in my local community college to retake a few classes I didn’t do very well in in college, and also took a number of other science courses to raise my science GPA. I continued volunteering and working, and also used that time to study for and take the MCAT. However, getting into the classes I needed was pretty difficult (community colleges are unlikely to give you any priority at all in registering for classes if you already have two degrees) and I had no research experience, so I decided to enroll in an accelerated master’s program.

To read more of Farrah's advice, read her first Student Insider here.

Student Insider: Farrah Fong

In our first of two Student Insiders featuring Farrah Fong, the blogger and now doctor(!) tells Evolvher how you, too, can prepare for–and survive–medical school!

 Image courtesy of Farrah Fong

Image courtesy of Farrah Fong

Educational Background:

  • BS, Exercise Biology: University of California, Davis

  • BA, Music Performance (Piano): University of California, Davis

  • Master's of Biomedical Sciences: University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey (Piscataway), now Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, 2016: West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

Evolvher: How did you choose which schools you wanted to attend and which fields to study?

Farrah Fong: UC Davis was always my first choice for college—I felt right at home when I visited there. People were friendly, it had a great science program, and was semi-close to home, so I was ecstatic when I was accepted there! I’ve always loved animals, so in high school, I actually wanted to be a veterinarian (that was part of why UC Davis was my first-choice university!).

I was waffling between becoming a vet or a physician, but since I was accepted as a Biological Sciences major into UC Davis, and the prerequisites for both fields are very similar, I figured I’d have time in college to decide what I really wanted to go into. I ultimately decided that medical school was what I wanted most. I ended up switching majors from Biological Sciences to Exercise Biology because the required courses looked so interesting and fun! (One of my best life decisions!) I also decided early on to pursue a double major in Music Performance because I didn’t want to give up that part of my life, so I figured I’d do both! 

Choosing a grad school was a difficult decision for me because I was also accepted into a program that was located close to everyone and everything I loved. Ultimately, I decided to complete an accelerated Master’s program at UMDNJ—a post-bac program that offered research experience and the same (or comparable) courses as the ones we’d be encountering in medical school. It was a small program and the faculty were very supportive and really cared about our well-being and success. I’m really glad I chose to come here, and as a matter of fact, I liked it here so much that this is where I’ll be completing my residency!

I knew that I was interested in primary care before entering medical school, so I figured an osteopathic medical school would be the best choice in terms of preparing me for that. WVSOM became my first-choice medical school after I went there for my interview—people were very friendly and really seemed to care about the students and treat them like we were all family, and it was in a gorgeous town that was relatively free from distractions, so I figured it’d be perfect!

Evolvher: We know medical school is a big decision. What inspired you to become a doctor? 

Farrah Fong: During winter break of my freshman year, my family got sandwiched in a giant car accident that led to my grandmother being hospitalized, and ultimately, she never left. I spent my spring break in the hospital translating for her, but was overwhelmed by how helpless I was—I had no idea what was going on and what I could do, and I needed that to change. I applied for and was accepted into an internship at Paul Hom Asian Clinic, a student-run free clinic completely staffed by volunteers, and volunteered as a medical interpreter and patient advocate. My experiences there are what made me fall in love with Family Medicine, and volunteering there was easily one of my most valuable experiences in college (and really just life in general). I would love to return to that clinic someday as a volunteer physician!

Evolvher: How did you find the motivation to push through with the MCAT and medical school?

Farrah Fong: One of the things I will always advocate for—in school and for life in general—is to find a balance. The MCAT is definitely not a fun exam—I viewed it as a necessary evil. I’m not entirely sure I would recommend what I did, because I actually spent the two weeks before my exam on a Mediterranean cruise. I brought all my study material with me, so my schedule was basically waking up early in the morning to study, go to the gym, eat, study, explore a new country, eat, study, gym, rinse and repeat. It definitely made for awesome built-in breaks though, which are crucial for giving your brain a break!

As for medical school, just remember to keep your eye on the prize. Things will get tough, but keep on trucking! Don’t forget what made you decide to go into medicine, and just keep that in mind when you feel like giving up. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people and don’t let negative self-talk get you down. What also really helped me was maintaining a life outside of medical school—I volunteered at animal rescues (it’s hard to be stressed out when you’re cuddling cats and walking dogs) and within the local community and also kept up a good number of my favorite hobbies.

 Image courtesy of Farrah Fong

Image courtesy of Farrah Fong

Celebrity Scholarships

Check out these two awesome celebrities who are helping students, like yourself, achieve their educational dreams by providing scholarships. 

Celebrity Endorsement: Rihanna

Associated With: Clara Lionel Foundation Global Scholarship Program

Application Deadline: June 10, 2016

Fine Print: Available to a citizen or native of Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana, or Jamaica going to study in the United States. 

Celebrity Endorsement: Karlie Kloss

Associated With: Kode With Karlie - Flatiron School

Application Deadline: Not open yet

Fine Print: Sign-up below to get more to get notified when applications open up. Also, click below to learn about the scholarship class of 2015. 




East Coast STEM Summer Jobs

Time to get a summer job! We know finding one can be a little difficult, but that's why we've rounded up these five STEM summer jobs on the East Coast. Have a look and get applying!

1. Camp Pixels – New York, NY

Get kids interested in STEM while getting to have fun! Camp Pixels hosts tons of technology and computer science camp programs and they're hiring! Check out this page to apply!

2. HYPOTHEkids – New York, NY

Add "Coding and Technology Instructor at Columbia University" to your resume when you work for HYPOTHEkids STEAM summer camp! While that might be a tad bit of a stretch, the HYPOTHEkids camp is held at Columbia University! Apply here to be part of their summer team.

3. Software Engineering Paid Internship, Hewlett Packard Enterprise – Southborough, MA

Work for one of the biggest computer companies! HP is hiring a software engineering intern and they're paying! Learn from some of the best and get great experience! Here's the application.

4. Instructional Technology & Design Paid Internshp, Accolade – Plymouth Meeting, PA

Interested in working in healthcare? Why not apply to be an Instructional Technology and Design intern with Accolade? They're a medical concierge company recognized by Forbes magazine to be one of the top 25 most promising companies! Details about the internship here.

5. Software Developer (C++) Paid Internship, Fidessa – New York, NY

Gain experience in technology while working in the finance industry! Fidessa's offices boast great views of New York City and they have many paid tech internships available for college juniors and grad students. To apply and learn more about their company, click here.


Geologist Road Trip: Top 5 Places To Visit This Summer

Interested in what's on the ground more than what's in the sky? We have you covered! 

We've compiled the top five spots that you should visit this summer to feed your geology curiosity. 

Yellowstone National Park

Location: Yellownstone National Park, Idaho/Montana/Wyoming

Fact: The most geysers, about 300, anywhere on earth.

 Mammoth Cave National Park

Location: Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Fact: World's longest known cave.

La Brea Tar Pits

Location: Los Angeles, California

Fact: For thousand of years natural asphalt has been coming up out of the ground.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Location: Big Island, Hawai'i

Fact: This year the park is celebrating it's Centennial.

Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona

Fact: Named by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage site.



West Coast STEM Summer Jobs

Summer vacation is right around the corner and if you're looking to put your STEM skills to work and make some money between binge watching your favorite Netflix shows, check out these awesome jobs on the West Coast!


Tech Instructor at Galileo Innovation Camp for Kids – California

What better way to spend summer than by getting paid to do your favorite tech activities? Teach kids 3D modeling and printing, video game design and Mod Design with Minecraft®! Galileo Innovation Camps are located throughout California and they even have job openings for students with shorter summers. Apply here!


FREEDM Systems Center REU for Engineering Undergraduates – Arizona

Spend 10 weeks getting paid to do research with other undergraduate engineering and computer science students! Arizona State University hosts the program, provides on-campus housing and will even pay for your travel if you're coming from over 50 miles away!


InnoVista Sensors Engineering Paid Internship – Condcord, California

Are you studying mechanical/aerospace or electrical engineering, computer science, math and/or physics and live in the Bay Area? Check out this paid internship with InnoVista Sensors


CodeVana Summer Camp Paid Internship – Oregon

Gain experience at CodeVana in website and software development, and assist building curriculum for coding summer camp! Teach kids to code while gaining experience and building your resume. 


Girls Rock Math Camp Teachers – Seattle, Washington

Love math? Now encourage kids to love it, too! Girls Rock Math camp is now hiring summer camp teachers and it could be you! Check it out here.

Astronomer Road Trip: Top 5 Places To Visit This Summer

Not sure what to do with your summer? Pack up a road trip with your friends or family and visit these five locations in the U.S. Each of these places are perfect for the budding astronomer. You'll be amazed with what you are able to see with your own eyes, but just in case don't forget to pack a telescope.

So start planning your star-gazing road trip now. You'll definitely make your friends back home jealous when you Instagram photos (like the ones below) at each of these locations and are able to say #nofilter. 

 Image by  Nate Levesque

Image by Nate Levesque


Location: Mount Desert, Maine



Location: Coudersport, Pennsylvania


 Image by  Wayne Pinkston

Image by Wayne Pinkston


Location: Death Valley National Park, California & Nevada


 Image by  Jacob Frank

Image by Jacob Frank


Location: Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska



Location: Lake Powell, Utah



5 Signs You Might be a Zoologist

  1. You've loved animals for as long as you can remember

  2. You smell like the zoo even after you've showered twice (but you don't mind)

  3.  People mistake you for a veterinarian all the time

  4.  You take better care of the animals than you do of yourself -- sweeping the zoo is so much easier than sweeping your house

  5. You're constantly telling people how to properly pronounce "zoology." It's zo-ol-ogy not zoo-ol-ogy. 

Interested in being a zoologist? Many schools across the country like Cornell, University of Wisconsin and Washington State University all have zoology programs! 

How to Choose a College, Part 2

 Image Via  CollegeDegrees360

So you've read our five factors to consider when choosing a college and have probably narrowed down your list of colleges. But what if you still haven't made a decision? Lucky for you we have more hints on how to choose a college! Consider these four factors when making your decision and you should be set! 

1. Student Life

What is it like to be a student at the school? Are there lots of clubs and activities? What about sororities and fraternities? Check out the college websites to see what they offer and be sure to ask about these on your campus tour.

2. On-Campus Housing

Are you planning to dorm on campus? While we think dorming is a great way to meet other students and experience living away from home, you should check with your college to see what their housing options are. Some schools only guarantee on-campus housing for freshmen and some offer co-ed dorming on the same floor. Be sure to find out what the housing situation is at the schools you're considering so that you can see what your options are.

3. Diversity

College is a great place to meet people from different backgrounds and walks of life. If you're used to a diverse community, then a school that doesn't have a diverse population probably won't be comfortable for you. Check with the school to see what kind of population they have so that you can be sure to find a school you'll love.

4. Large vs. Small Schools

Public school or private school, colleges vary greatly. Public schools are typically larger and have a higher student:professor ratio and private schools tend to be smaller and have smaller student:professor ratios. Are you looking to be surrounded by 30,000 or more students and can't wait to join hundreds of other students in a lecture hall? Then a large school might be the right choice for you! Keep in mind that it might take longer to graduate from a larger school due to the amount of students crowding you out of classes.

All set to make your decision? Awesome! Now check here for some scholarships!

5 College Engineering Scholarships for Females


Lillian Moller Gilbreth Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $14,500

Available To: Junior, Senior

Anne Maureen Whitney Barrow Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $7,000

Available To: Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior Senior

Fran O'Sullivan Women in Lenovo Leadership Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Available To: Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Graduate

Chevron/SWE Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Available To: Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior

Northrop Grumman Corporation Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Available To: Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior

Want to see more scholarships? Click here!

How to Choose a College, Part 1

 Image via  CollegeDegrees360

Received your college acceptance letters? Congratulations! But now comes the hard part: Choosing which school to attend. Making such a big decision can be scary, but if you follow these guidelines, your decision should be easier to make!

1. Don't let rejection get you down

With an estimated 20 million students applying to college each year, it's no surprise that many of them don't get into their top school. If this happens to you, don't worry! Your future is not doomed because you didn't get into MIT or Stanford. There are over 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States. You don't have to attend a top-tiered school to succeed. If you work hard and do well, you will succeed at any college you attend!

2. Location, Location, Location

What schools have you been accepted to attend? Are they close to home or on the opposite side of the world? Where your school is located is a very important factor to consider.

Do you prefer the city or is a rural location your dream? If you're looking for easy access to shopping, dining and weekend activities, then a school that's situated in or near a city will be a better choice for you than a school that is more isolated. But on the other hand, if the thought of studying in a city isn't your thing, consider a school farther away from large cities and opt for a school in a small town.If you plan on attending a community college or plan on living at home and commuting to school, you will obviously want to choose a school that isn't too far away.

While the idea of going to school in another state can be exciting, keep in mind that it also comes with the added cost of out-of-state tuition and extra travel costs.

3. Compare Curriculum

Different schools have different programs. Check online for the Bulletin for the program you're enrolling in to see what the required classes are. If you're going to major in computer science and one school has a better developed and more extensive computer science program than another you're considering, you'll probably want to consider the school with the better curriculum.

4. Money, Money, Money

Probably the biggest deciding factor you'll face when deciding which college to attend is money. The price of attending college varies greatly. Some colleges can cost over $50,000 per year while others are less than $20,000.Luckily there are lots of financial aid opportunities for students that can help earning your degree more affordable! First, make sure you've completed the FAFSA. We have a post on why you have to do it here. Without the FAFSA, you can't received federal financial aid. If you've already completed the FAFSA, great job!

Check with your top colleges to see what their financial package is for you. Ask them what scholarships and aid you can receive from them and what you can expect to pay. Many schools have merit-based financial aid for incoming freshman that can help reduce your tuition by $1,000 or more and a few schools even offer 100% tuition coverage!

If you're still looking for more aid, check online to see what scholarships you might be able to apply for. There are tons of scholarships just waiting for you!

Once you've factored in all of your aid, you can see how much you owe and see if you can get loans to cover the rest. Keep in mind that attending a college that's out of state can cost you more in tuition and travel costs.

5. Tour Your Top Schools

Once you've narrowed down your list to your top two or three schools, arrange for a tour of the campus. Most schools offer free private or group tours which you can usually arrange by visiting the college's website or by calling their Admissions office. The tour guide will show you the campus and answer any questions you may have. It's a good way to experience the school and see what it 's like! 


Still can't decide which school to attend? Check back next Thursday for part two where we answer more questions about how to choose a college!




Top 5 Historical Women in Math

Hypatia of Alexandria

(370? - 415 AD)

Claim to Fame: Hypatia was a mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer. She is the earliest known female mathematician.

Maria Agnesi

(May 16, 1718 - January 9, 1799)

Claim to Fame: Maria was a mathematical prodigy and was the first to publish a book on mathematics. 

Sofia Kovalevskaya

(January 15, 1850 - February 10, 1891)

Claim to Fame: Sofia was the first woman in Europe to receive a doctorate in mathematics and to join the editorial board of a scientific journal. 

Emmy Noether

(March 23, 1882 - April 14, 1935)

Claim to Fame: Her theories are the core for modern algebra and physics. She was also called a "genius" by Albert Einstein.

Maryam Mirzakhani

(May 3, 1977 - Present)

Claim to Fame: Maryam is part of recent history. She is the first woman to win the Fields Medal, which is the Nobel Prize of mathematics.

Spotlight: Sunny Washington

Sunny Washington

CEO, Ardusat – Salt Lake City, UT

Experimenting with outer space just became a whole lot easier with the Ardusat Space Kit. At the center of this awesome company is their CEO, Sunny Washington. She sat down with Evolvher to talk about how graduating from Brigham Young University with a B.S in Sociology, running her own bank branch, growing a company from 7 people to 500, and more have all helped give her the experience she needed to lead the Ardusat team. Keep reading to learn more about her journey, how her company is changing how students learn about STEM, and how to help get Ardusat into your school.

On Why She Choose To Lead This Startup

I never imagined doing my own startup. Based on my previous work experience I did know that I liked working with a small team, because it’s in those teams that you really get to know who you’re working with. Everyone’s contribution can be felt on a very detailed level. Every day it was an all hands on deck situation and after working at a larger company I wanted to go back to that.

What I did have to figure out was if I wanted to stay in tech or if I wanted to try a different industry. I did quite a bit of soul searching and thought to myself could I be excited about building something like a consumer app, and realized that no that’s not what I would personally find fulfilling.

It was around that time that I was contacted by Spire Global and they wanted to spin out an educational company that used their satellites to inspire students in STEM.. Now I have never worked in the space industry and never had imaged that I would, but I thought to myself that I had to do this. To me there was no downside to joining this startup. It may have seemed super risky, but I could really get behind what they were trying to accomplish.

On Why She’s Excited About Ardusat

The thing is we don’t have enough students graduating in STEM even if this is the STEM generation. We’re lacking enough students with those degrees.

I personally have a nine year old daughter and was sad to find out that she was learning math the same way that I did when I was in school. There are so many new tools available to students but not necessarily in the classroom.

The reason that we’re building out this technology is because I’m doing it for my daughter, for the kids in the neighborhood, for the kids in this generation. The great thing about this job is that I have the best customers, teachers. They are all about self-sacrifice and give so much to their students.

  Testing high-altitude balloons out in the field. 

Testing high-altitude balloons out in the field. 

What I Would Have Told My High School Self

I wish so badly that I would have had the confidence I now have back then.

Many girls don’t pursue STEM degrees because they think that they’re not good at math. My daughter told me once that she wasn’t good at math and I asked her why and it was because she heard it. Girls just hear those type of things more often. I question my daughter when I hear her say stuff like that.

We need to break down those stereotypes and that why I wish I would have focused more on my effort and didn’t care what others thought.


On The Different STEM Jobs At Ardusat

The great thing about working at a startup like Ardusat is it allows for a lot of experimentation. People who work here get to see what sticks and what works. If they find something that works then they can grow it.

One job that’s really cool here is being an Instructional Designer. They help make experiment ideas for teachers to do in the classroom. Some of those experiments include measuring the UV strength of sunglasses, creating your own electromagnet, and so many other things. They provide teachers with ideas of experiments that they can run in the classroom.

We also have college and high school internships available as well. We currently have two high-school girls helping us build experiments and product like our DemoSat, which is a 3D printed satellite replica.

 The Ardusat Space Kit

How To Get Ardusat

We’re selling primarily to schools because we want to capture ALL kids early on. Ardusat could definitely be a consumer type product, but with a consumer product you’re selling towards the parents that care and parents that have money. For us if we really want to make an impact with STEM it needs to be taught to all kids.

There are plenty of opportunities to learn about STEM nowadays, but it’s just not translated into the schools. Our system needs some help. We have so many teachers that aren’t exposed to these opportunities, and that’s what we want to change.

The great thing is that we’re currently working with 100 schools and some are in different countries.

Interested in getting Ardusat into your school? Share Ardusat with your teachers, friends and family by visiting here.

Images provided by Ardusat


Spotlight: Alexandra Dickinson

Alexandra Dickinson

CEO and Co-Founder, Ask For It – New York, NY

Do you know what you’re worth, but have a hard time asking for it? Feel like you need to develop or improve your negotiation skills? Then you have to read the advice from Ask For It Co-Founder Alexandra Dickinson. Alexandra graduated from New York University with a B.S. and Master’s in Media, Culture and Communication. After working in both the corporate and nonprofit worlds, she saw the need to help others learn to negotiate. Keep reading to hear her advice on building a business, what class she wished she paid more attention to in school, and ultimately her tips on asking for what you deserve.

What Helped Her Become An Entrepreneur And Why She Started Ask For It:

A few years ago, I started a Lean In Circle that met once a month after work. They’re based on Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. They are small groups that meet regularly to talk about professional development and leadership issues in the workplace. As the organizer, I chose the members and facilitated our  group discussions. That made a big impact on me. It made me realize, “hey, I started something. It may be small, but I’m making a difference in my life and in the lives of the women in my circle, and this is really exciting to me.”

I love teaching negotiation because  the skills are so learnable. If you didn’t go to business school, chances are you were never formally taught how to negotiate. The good news is, it’s never too late to learn.  You can practice, get better, and then use your new skills and make an impact in your life right away. You don’t have to get another degree to be a better negotiator. All you have to do is learn the basics and then practice to develop your confidence, which is amazing.


On The Benefits of Working For Yourself:

I have always valued autonomy and self achievement. Growing up and even when I was in college, I felt sort of constrained. I thought to myself, “when I get to be an adult, I can do whatever I want.” Then I got a full time job and realized I still had to show up to work every day, go to meetings I was expected to attend and do the projects I was assigned. I’m a rule follower by nature, so it’s not that I really acted against these things, but I did think about it.

One of the best things about working for myself is having control of my schedule. It’s really nice to have that flexibility. Plus, I love being able to take my dog, Margaret, for a walk during the day.


On The Problems of Working For Yourself:

One of my strengths is productivity: I’ve trained over 300 people and put on eight events just in the last five months. I built and maintain our website and our research wiki; I plan and execute our events; I design our training decks; I do the social media; I invoice our clients, along with many, many other tasks big and small.

The flip side is that I can focus too much on the task level when it would be beneficial to consider the bigger picture. Because I don’t have a boss to report back to, I have to make time to stop and assess my own performance and whether everything I’m doing aligns with my strategic goals. For this reason, I have some trusted advisors who I can turn to for an external perspective from time to time.

What Skill Should Entrepreneurs-To-Be Learn:

Math. 100% math.

When I took the GRE to get into graduate school, my husband had to re-teach me all the math, which was pretty stressful for both of us. Now as a small business owner, I do my own basic bookkeeping and I wish that I had taken an accounting class. I realize it’s not too late, but it’s hard to make the time for it once you’re busy building a business. I wish I had a stronger foundation in math.


Alexandra’s Top Negotiation Tips:

  • Ask for small things all the time - even things that you know that you are not going to get. You’ll get used to small-stakes rejection so eventually it won’t seem scary to ask for bigger things.

  • When you’re asking for something, frame it in a way that makes sense from the other person’s point of view. Be sure to think about what that person wants as well as what you want.

  • Practice makes perfect. Tell a friend or family member the objections you think you might face. Then ask them to role play with you so when the time comes, you’ll already know how to respond to pushback.


Photography by Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr.





Why You HAVE To Do the FAFSA

College is expensive, there's no denying that. Tuition, fees, room and board, textbooks, class supplies, food--it adds up quickly. How do you pay for it all? If you're like the 22,000,000 students who apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year, you need help. But just like college, you have to apply for it. 

While it might take some time to complete, you have to do the FAFSA if you want any kind of federal financial aid. Grants, loans and work-study all require that you complete the FAFSA. Even if you don't think you need loans, many colleges and universities offer scholarships based on the FAFSA and won't award scholarships if you haven't completed the FAFSA.

Because the FAFSA evaluates your family's financial situation, it can be a little complicated. Your high school guidance counselor or the finance office at the college you want to attend should be able to help you. If you have more questions, you can call the FAFSA customer service line at 1--800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Quick Tips & Facts

  • Deadline: June 30. (March 2 if you live in California and want to apply for the Cal Grant)
  • FAFSA homepage:
  • It's best if you parents do their taxes before completing the FAFSA (unless you're married or an emancipated minor).
  • You CANNOT receive federal financial aid without completing the FAFSA.
  • List the schools on your FAFSA from most expensive to least expensive (they base the amount of your financial aid on the first school listed so you want to list the most expensive school first).
  • Requirements for the FAFSA are different for undergraduate students and graduate students; be sure you follow the correct requirements for your level of study.
  • You have to reapply each year.


Volunteer Abroad: Science Edition

Have you ever wanted to volunteer AND travel? Did you know that you can do both those things and help with science? We know it sounds too good to be true, but visit Volunteer Latin America to preview some of the amazing opportunities available to students interested in science and travel. 

Check below to see a few of the awesome opportunities that they have online:

 Image by Tanguy Sauvin

Image by Tanguy Sauvin

Sea Turtle Camp Caretaker

  • Hang out in Costa Rica
  • Age 18+
  • Volunteer length: 3 months
  • Cost: $0, Room & board is covered + you get $100 each month
 Image by Hans Eiskonen

Image by Hans Eiskonen

Volunteer at Ecological Reserve

  • Hang out in Costa Rica
  • Age 16+
  • Volunteer length: 2 days to a maximum of 60 days
  • Cost: $25 each day
 Image by John Mark Arnold

Image by John Mark Arnold

Volunteer with a Microalgae Project

  • Hang out in Colombia
  • Age 18+
  • Volunteer length: 3 months minimum
  • Cost: $0


 Image by Colby Thomas

Image by Colby Thomas

Veterinarian and General Volunteers

  • Hang out in Bolivia
  • Age 18+
  • Volunteer length: 1 week or 1 month
  • Cost: $8 per day

8 Signs You Might Be A Chemistry Major

  1. Non-chemistry majors think there's something wrong with your face because the goggle lines from lab never come off.
  2. When you hear the word "organic" you think "any compound that contains carbon," not every single product in Whole Foods.
  3. Your daily uniform is hair pulled back, goggles, lab coat, long pants, closed-toe shoes that come up to your ankles and no jewelry that could get caught on the bunsen burner.
  4. You never bother to wear a sweater because your lab coat never comes off anyway.
  5. You can pronounce the chemical names of anything perfectly and always pride yourself on the fact that you can practically speak a different language.
  6. You not-so-secretly like winter quarter the best because there are two Monday holidays meaning two less labs to do (until the professors decide to give extra work to "make up" for the holidays.
  7. Drawing your organic chemistry homework makes you frustrated but calm at the same time.
  8. You cry with happiness when you google your homework question and actually find the solution on the first Google results page. Thank you, people of the Internet!

3 Ways Research Can Help You

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Remember Sophia Nasr, from our Student Insider column on January 11? She's back with more information for students like you! This time it's all about research.

Research is behind everything we do and use in life. Whether it's the food you eat, the moisturizer you use or the stars you gaze upon at night between finishing homework assignments, research is involved in it all. For York University astrophysics student Sophia Nasr and many other students, research is a big part of their education and future goals. Read on to see how Sonia's research shaped her and how research can help you!

  1. Research can introduce you to brilliant professors and projects: I began with a research position in observational astronomy with the chair of the department, Dr. Marshall McCall. My next research position (one I still hold today) was pretty much the turning point in my undergraduate life. Under the supervision of Sean Tulin, I work with a model known as the Self-Interacting Dark Matter (SIDM) model, which postulates that dark matter particles collide with each other, and these collisions are facilitated by a new dark force.
  2. Research can teach you beyond the classroom: I learned how to fully classify galaxies by their stage and type (that is to say, I learned how to tell whether a galaxy was actively forming new stars or not, and whether it was a spiral, elliptical, or lenticular). But I also got to use transformation matrices to transform the galaxies from the plane of the sky to the plane of the “sheet” they reside in, and I actually enjoyed doing the transformations quite a bit. This made me realize that I like working with numbers and formulas. What I am currently working on is formulating a theoretical framework that will help extract important information about particle physics of dark matter. I get to use a lot of Mathematica doing my research, which is a very powerful programming language for making programs that can do things like making complicated calculations for you, make data plots, simulations, and so much more. 
  3. Research can change your future: What helped me realize what I wanted to do was doing research with professors. I get to do theoretical and computational work, which I discovered was really what I love to do! I found my calling, what I want to do in my graduate studies—dark matter using the SIDM model!

Spotlight: Hitomi Kimura

Hitomi Kimura

Co-Founder, DinersCode – New York, NY

Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to move to a foreign country, and then decide to build a company there? Luckily, we have you covered. For this week’s Spotlight we were able to sit down with Hitomi Kimura, Co-Founder of DinersCode, to learn more about what it's like moving from Japan to New York City, starting a new company, and why she wanted to build her company abroad in the first place.

For Those Interested in Building a Company in Other Countries

“Go work in an industry that is really growing fast. The more saturated the industry is the slower it will be to change things and to start something new. There are a lot more regulations that will probably limit you. If it’s a growing new field and if nobody has done it before, then there’s a greater chance that anybody can go and break the rules and do something new. You make the rules.”

On Why She Choose to Build Her Company Abroad

“I lived in Japan before New York and I wanted to be in a place where being young and being a woman was a positive thing. Japan is a very historical country. It’s very difficult for a young person to move up in the hierarchy fast. If you’re a woman, there’s even more weighing against you. So I thought I could do better in America just because that’s what I was. I was young and a woman. The amazing thing about New York, it was exactly what I thought. It was top schools, top companies, top everything, and gave you opportunity – maybe they give you more opportunity because you’re young and you’re a woman, and that’s how I benefited and got here.”

Advice to Her High School Self

“Go out and meet a lot more people. Maybe because I was in Japan, but high school, to me, was go to school, have fun, come home, study and get into a good college. I didn’t go out and meet people outside of my age group. You should go to college and attend some classes or go to some seminars or meet your parent’s friend and talk to them about their life. That wasn’t somehow part of my curriculum, or it wasn’t in my day to day. 

Knowing someone 10 years older, 20 years older, 30 years older with different experiences probably would’ve helped me a lot more. Knowing more people I think is key to success. I wish I had done that.”

On Why She Choose Her Master’s Program

“My degree in management science and engineering allows me to understand both the business and engineering sides of companies. Since I already had a lot of business experience, I knew I needed more engineering experience. Also, I knew If I choose only a full engineering master’s it wouldn’t really teach me the practical side. To compare it to sports that means if I only learned one side then I’d just be playing the game versus understanding the bigger picture like a coach. I felt like having that boost on my resume would benefit me ultimately because a startup is not just about engineers or business people. It’s about how everything works together.”

Photography by Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr.

New Year's STEM Resolutions

If you've been curious about learning something new, make 2016 your year to do it! Now that you know how to prioritize, you can put those lessons into action and make 2016 your year! There's so much to learn in STEM and with many skills that can be learned online for free, why not start right now? We did a little digging for you and found some free online skills that you can learn in 2016 to help you with your STEM goals.


Whether you're interests are in science, technology, engineering or math, having a grasp of statistics can be very helpful. While you'll more than likely take a statistics class or two in college, make it your New Year's resolution to get a jump start at learning it right now! Statistics can be used in any STEM field and taking an online tutorial to introduce yourself to it can help you learn the basics. Stat Trek offers a variety of online, self-taught courses in statistics through free tutorials, or check out Udacity for their free, professor-guided Intro to Statistics course.


If java means coffee to you, ruby makes you think of a red gem and python elicits thoughts of a large snake, it might be time to learn a new language.

Depending on where you are with your education, you may be learning a new language right now. Be it French, Spanish, Mandarin or one of the many other languages spoken around the world, learning another language can help you communicate with others. But there are other languages that can help you, as well. For those who lean toward the tech side of STEM, there are more than just foreign languages that can be learned.

Java, Ruby and Python are some of the many programming languages that are commonly used. Go back to your prioritizing goals. What kinds of jobs and careers are you looking for? Check the websites of companies you want to work for and look at what programming languages they require fluency in. Want to work at Apple? Their job site lists over 600 jobs, each with different requirements. To be an Application Security Manager there, they require expertise in Python, Java, PHP, Perl and Ruby, just to name a few.

That's a lot to learn and it might seem a little overwhelming. Use your prioritizing skills and learn one language at a time. Code Academy has free online coding classes that you can learn at your own pace. They're easy to understand and learning a new language is a great New Year's resolution!