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!
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.
Location: Durham, NC
Length: 12 days online or 5 days on campus
Dates: May 30, 2016 - July 29, 2016
Deadline: Ongoing until course begins
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Length: 4 weeks on campus
Dates: July 10, 2016 - August 6, 2016
Deadline: July 10, 2016 - August 6, 2016
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Length: 4 weeks on campus
Dates: June 6, 2016 - July 1, 2016
Application Deadline: May 6, 2016
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.
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!
Lillian Moller Gilbreth Memorial Scholarship
Available To: Junior, Senior
Anne Maureen Whitney Barrow Memorial Scholarship
Available To: Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior Senior
Fran O'Sullivan Women in Lenovo Leadership Scholarship
Available To: Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Graduate
Available To: Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior
Northrop Grumman Corporation Scholarship
Available To: Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior
Want to see more scholarships? Click here!
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!
Hey Juniors! College is creeping closer, so get a jump on it by checking off these five things on our to-do list.
Check them out below!
It's never too early to start preparing for college, so if you're a Sophomore in High School we've prepared a checklist of things you can do this Spring to get started.
Check them out below!
(370? - 415 AD)
Claim to Fame: Hypatia was a mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer. She is the earliest known female mathematician.
(May 16, 1718 - January 9, 1799)
Claim to Fame: Maria was a mathematical prodigy and was the first to publish a book on mathematics.
(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.
(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.
(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.
NAME: Briana Vecchione
SCHOOL: Pace University
DEGREE: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
GRADUATION YEAR: 2016
How She Became Interested In STEM & Why She Chose Pace University
I started tinkering with code during the days of MySpace without really realizing I was coding! I enjoyed the creative component of reverse engineering, and so my interest grew from there. I experimented with web development side projects all throughout high school, which worked to my advantage during my freshman year of college when I found myself enrolled in an intro CS class.
I found myself at a University that offered an intensely tight CS community and sponsored me in various projects both nationally and internationally, and I appreciated the atmosphere of a small environment with specialized attention and a higher degree of impact.
On Why It’s Important To Intern
It's important to get as much exposure as you can in diverse positions so that you can learn what work styles and environments are most conducive.
At Microsoft Research, I found myself in data science research, which helped me develop an emphasis within my CS education. It also exposed me to presenting at and attending conferences, which has been the most important compliment to my studies.
At the Federal Reserve, I learned about data architecture and business applications of a project, like database schemas, creating/iterating dashboards, and interfacing with stakeholders.
My position with wogrammer resulted after reaching out to the founders and expressing interest in bringing the organization to the ground at a local level. It's been an awesome avenue for me to meet, connect with, and give exposure to immensely talented women engineers!
On The Importance of The Grace Hopper Celebration
This past year was my 2nd year receiving the Grace Hopper Celebration scholarship from Anita Borg Institute, which was very exciting! GHC is scaling immensely fast because of the incredible opportunities that it provides. Some of the most pivotal moments in my career have come from the experiences that I've had and the connections that I've made at GHC. From listening to keynotes by industry leaders and interviewing with your favorite companies to meeting your online CS friends face-to-face for the first time, it's definitely something I recommend every woman in CS attend at least once during their career.
Top Lessons Her Work Experience Has Taught Her
Passion will be your greatest motivator and most important reward; Everything else can be learned.
Networking is just a fancy name for meeting interesting people and expanding your own horizons by getting to hear about their journeys. It will lead to some of your greatest friendships and most important mentorships.
Stay humble, never stop learning, and don't be afraid to take risks - especially while you're still young!
Work that fulfills you is work where you'll be able to make the largest difference. Find the difference between "knowing when to go" and being persistent in the face of adversity.
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: https://studentaid.ed.gov
- 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.
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:
- Hang out in Costa Rica
- Age 18+
- Volunteer length: 3 months
- Cost: $0, Room & board is covered + you get $100 each month
- Hang out in Costa Rica
- Age 16+
- Volunteer length: 2 days to a maximum of 60 days
- Cost: $25 each day
- Hang out in Colombia
- Age 18+
- Volunteer length: 3 months minimum
- Cost: $0
- Hang out in Bolivia
- Age 18+
- Volunteer length: 1 week or 1 month
- Cost: $8 per day
NAME: Terri Burns
SCHOOL: New York University
DEGREE: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
GRADUATION YEAR: 2016
The summer after my freshman year of college, I applied to Google's Building Opportunities for Leadership and Development Immersion program, geared for non-technical majors. It was my first time visiting a technology company and while I was there, I saw a talk by Megan Smith, now CTO of the United States. Smith talked about the power of technology in enhancing people's lives around the world, and I was hooked. I decided to start learning how to code that summer and ended up changing my major fall of my sophomore year.
On What Inspired Terri To Pursue Computer Science
Tech@NYU, NYC's largest student technology organization, is what encouraged me to pursue computer science. The fall semester of my sophomore year, when I decided to change my major to computer science, I also joined the executive board of Tech@NYU. I was so fortunate to be around incredibly interesting, driven, and smart computer scientists-- especially at a time when I knew very little about the field of technology. Tech@NYU not only pushed me to stick to the field, but it also encouraged me to apply to other programs and internships where I've met other amazing people in the industry.
On Working While In College
My dear friend Cassidy Williams reached out to me on Twitter about a position at Venmo. At the time, I knew her through a Tech@NYU event which I planned and where she spoke. I was actually living in London at the time, so I had a few remote interviews and then got the job which I started when I returned to New York. Before then, I had worked at my school's IT department for a year and a half, did some volunteering at a startup in my hometown called Chicks Can Code, and was a Google Student Ambassador.
On Being Involved With A Campus Club Like Tech@NYU
I feel so honored to be part of the Tech@NYU family. I was surrounded by a team that consists of some of the brightest student technologists in NYC. As President, my role is mainly to facilitate the execution of events/projects for each of our internal teams, which includes Infrastructure, Startup Week, Hack Days, Freshman Circuit, Design Days, After Hours, and Demo Days. Everyone on our board is super talented and are great leaders, which makes my job easy. Again, I'm super honored (and lucky!) to have been accepted to join the board my sophomore fall, so I just feel really grateful to be where I am now.
For Students Interested In Attending The Grace Hopper Conference
Last year was my second year attending. I was able to connect with a lot of people I'd met over the years through internships, tech events, and the internet. That year I spent most of my time interviewing for full time positions, because I'm a senior. (It's great the GHC gives students an opportunity to do so many interviews in a short period of time, rather than spreading it out.) The Anita Borg institute fortunately let me do an Instagram takeover for their account, so I was also able to keep track of what I was doing and share it with everyone who follows the account! I think that GHC is a great opportunity to connect, and will get better over time as it focuses more on intersectional feminism. After the conference, I was featured as a guest writer and got to write a piece on my feedback for the Anita Borg account.
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!
We know that end of semester rush to finish projects and papers while trying to find time to study for finals has got you stressed out. You probably think that you don't even have five minutes to spare to take a breath and look up from your books. But you should! Small breaks actually help you do better! According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (aka MIT) Center for Academic Excellence, taking regular breaks helps your brain stay alert and productive. Try our favorite activities below during your study breaks to help your brain stay sharp for your finals:
1. Coloring Books: Who says that colorings books are just for children? Anyone can do them! Taking a break to color is great because not only are you doing something creative, but you're also giving your brain something different to work on. If you only have a few minutes to take a break, we highly suggest this one! And with the wide variety of coloring books (there are even math pattern coloring books!) available in stores and online, you're sure to find one that you'll like.
2. Bubble baths: You're studying hard; you deserve a break! After you've finished writing your longest, hardest essay, take a few extra minutes to treat yourself to something nice. Spa’mazing has a chemistry kit that lets you mix your own bubble bath! It’s a fun break that will make you feel like you're at a luxurious spa. 30 minutes is plenty of time to soak in the bubbles and once you're out of the bath, you'll probably be rejuvenated and ready to start your next essay or project.
3. Exercise: We're not saying you have to train like you're trying to make the 2016 Olympic team (if you are, shoot us an email; we definitely want to feature you), but a few minutes of exercise can help you clear your mind and energize you. Take the dog for a quick, brisk walk, shoot some hoops or do a little bit of yoga alongside a video on YouTube. Whatever it is, make sure you're getting up and moving. 10 minutes of exercise will get you energized for your next hour of studying. Remember to drink water, too, so you stay hydrated and alert. Our go-to app for that is Waterlogged. It’ll track your water consumption and even remind you throughout the day to have a glass.
4. Chores: Okay, we know this is probably not anywhere near the top of your To-Do list, but it is an activity that is productive! Whether it's hanging your laundry, taking the garbage out or doing the dishes, you're accomplishing a task that would otherwise take more of your time later. Plus, helping out around the house without being asked to do it first is probably going to make your parents very happy (remember they have stress, too). Win-win!
5. Board Games: Have a sibling who you're "too busy" to play with? Use one of your study breaks to play a STEM game like Robot Turtles Game or Code Monkey Island . Your sibling will appreciate that you took time to play a game with them and you'll get to have fun, too! Just don't get too carried away that your little break turns into a game night and you completely forget to study.
NAME: Sophia Nasr,
SCHOOL: York University
DEGREE: Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics
GRADUATION YEAR: 2016
My interest in space and astronomy started long ago when my mom used to take me out for meteor showers as a child. I wanted to know what these “shooting stars” were (which I discovered that of course, they weren’t shooting stars at all, but rather, debris burning up in Earth’s atmosphere). My interests later progressed, and I became curious about how vast space was, how many star systems out there had planets, and how many of these could support life. Later still, my curiosity peaked with black holes; what are these beasts? And dark matter! What is it? This, the vastness of the universe and the beauty it holds is what has had me completely mesmerized with astronomy since childhood.
Aside from classes and research, I am also the president of the Astronomy Club at York University. Our club is dedicated to helping share astronomical knowledge with everyone. The way we accomplish this is by bringing in professors and graduate students to talk about interesting topics in astronomy, including the research they specialize in. Other things we do include field trips, including going to major observatories, like the Algonquin Radio Observatory. We also hold star parties where members get to come out and look at objects in the night sky through telescopes!
Other ways I participate in astronomical outreach is through social media. One of the best positions I’ve gotten was as a writer for Pluto Safari, an app that closely followed the New Horizons mission. Through this opportunity, I learned a lot about New Horizons and the Pluto system, and even wrote an article about Pluto’s atmosphere that went up on Space.com! This was one of the best experiences of my life.
At York University, we have high school students who come in as co-op students and do projects using the telescope. We also have high school students volunteering as well. Doing this will help give you hands-on experience with working with a telescope.
For students already in university anytime you come across something you don’t understand, ask questions. Another thing that is really important is to find out how you study best. For some people, group study works great and can be extremely helpful. But for others, including myself, studying in a group may not work as well as studying alone. This is something you need to figure out quickly so that you know what works for you.
Perhaps the most important thing I would recommend is to do research. It’s only when you start working on something that you will learn whether it is really what you want to do. Not only this, but when you apply to grad school, research is a huge asset! It gives you special experience that others may not have, and could be the very thing that will get you into the school of your choice.
Happy New Year! With January now in full swing, many people have already given up on their New Year resolutions--but not us! We're just getting started. Keep reading so that you can have a successful January, too!
This week we're all about PRIORITIZING. Getting our goals down and focusing on what's important. If you're tired of being stressed out and way too busy, join us in prioritizing. While not the most conventional new year's resolution, it's one we believe will really help make 2016 the best year yet! Follow these four simple steps so that you can stress less this new year:
1. Determine your long-term and short-term goals. Maybe you want to get into the undergraduate school of your dreams or finish your Ph.D., those are your long-term goals. Getting a 4.0 GPA this semester is your shorter-term goal that can help you reach your long-term goal.
2. Make a list of things you have to do and things you want to do. You have to do your geometry homework (those proofs aren’t going to prove themselves!), you want to watch the new Star Wars movie...again.
3. Mark the due dates for each one in your calendar. Sure, movies are only in theaters for a few weeks, but don’t sabotage your actual goals--like a good GPA--for something that can be done later. When you see what’s due first, you’ll be better able to stay on track.
4. The tasks that you absolutely must do, do first. There’s no sense in doing something that’s not due for another month first when you have assignments that are due this week. This is what prioritizing is all about. The important tasks that are due now are your highest priority. Do them first. We know checking Instagram first thing in the morning is your way of slowly waking up, but if you have a test to study for, put your phone down and open the books. You can always Instagram your good grade from your test afterward.
See? Those steps aren’t too hard to follow, are they? So, what are you waiting for? Start your prioritizing right now and you’ll be on your way to success!
- There are lots of internship opportunities out there, if you are willing to go out and look for them. Look in places that may not be obvious at first, it may surprise you what you find is available. It was only from talking to friends that I found out about the possibility of visiting NASA and I was lucky enough to intern at their NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I worked with the science communication and outreach team, and was lucky enough to interview Nobel Laureate John Mather on his views about how to get more young people into STEM. I also had a full tour of the facility, from the JWST clean rooms, through to one of the largest vacuum chambers on the planet, whilst meeting some truly amazing people, and some pretty awesome robots!
- Push yourself… you never know what you can achieve until you try. Famously Gene Cernan, the last man on the Moon, who I was fortunate enough in my life to have met, said pretty much this, go for your goal, never give up on your dreams, make the impossible, possible.
- Talk to people! Learn from others about their experiences in university and various classes.
- Get involved with events going on within your department, you never know what opportunities may arise. I was lucky enough to get an internship offer through outreach work I did at my university, which lead to many other opportunities.
- Do your research! It is very important to go and see the different universities you are applying to, you will get a feel for the department and usually have the chance to speak to current students too.
- Don’t panic! The road to a degree or indeed a career is definitely not a straight line, things may not go your way the first time. If this happens, don’t panic! You will learn a lot along the way, and it will work out in the end.
Advice For Students Interested In Forensic Science
- I've wanted a career in the forensics field since I was a child and I found that constantly seeking out information from local law enforcement agencies throughout the years helped me receive a more realistic understanding of the field. Forensic science is often portrayed very differently on television, and meeting with professionals in the field helped set a lot of those discrepancies straight.
- I chose to attend Pace University because it is very veteran friendly school, is located in a great area, and has both undergraduate and graduate programs in forensic science (Which is very rare!).
- If you are looking to live in a particular area, check out the programs at some local schools. Forensic Science is a very specialized degree, so when a school offers it, it's easy to find.
- There are plenty of resources when it comes to finding internships and/or other opportunities to get experience within the field. Forensic seminars, often held at schools, are a great way to network with forensic professionals.
Advice For Veterans Interested In College
- Transitioning from an active duty life to a civilian life can seem very stressful but it is extremely rewarding. There are so many tools that are available to veterans. Whenever you do choose a school, they will have a VA representative on hand. They can help you with G.I. Bill issues, disability, and even employment opportunities. It may be overwhelming at first but always remember that there are so many people who are there to ensure that you as a veteran are taken care of.
- My biggest piece of advice to individuals who are thinking about transitioning is to have a plan. Start looking at colleges, BAH rates for college zones, and programs anywhere from a year to two years out.
- In the military there are a few departments you can go into that may be able to set you up with STEM career opportunities after you are discharged. A large one is any medical squadrons on base. I know many medics and lab technicians who have transitioned to the civilian side of their military jobs. If you are interested in learning more about STEM programs before leaving the military, many hospitals, laboratories, and other science-affiliated jobs love giving military individuals the opportunity to see what they do for a living.
- One of the things I believe I benefitted from most by joining the military before college is the structure. As an active duty airman, I learned how to be organized and prioritize. If I would have went straight into my forensic science program after I graduated high school, I don't think I would have had the focus and discipline that's needed toward such a degree. At age 26, I am ready to give my all to my education.
Advice to College Students
- Make sure you know your limit. Biting off more than you can chew is part of the learning experience, but once you know what your limit is be able to keep within it. You can't be a good student if you're so overloaded that you can't handle it and/or it affects your mental/physical health.
- If you feel that you're not at the right place, don't hesitate to change if you feel it will be beneficial to you. I went from biochemistry to physics before finally settling on electrical engineering. Once I made the switch to engineering I just knew I was in the right major--things just started to fall into place. Additionally, to those who have a rough time staying afloat academically, it can be tough, I've been there, but don't give up! Sometimes it's just a chance of pace you need, or some time to figure yourself out, or a change of school/environment. It may be hard to acknowledge, but once you know what it is be sure to act on it to minimize miserableness as well as optimizing your college experience.
- Cultural clubs are also really nice if you're a different ethnicity because you can connect with people who have similar cultural backgrounds. I joined Korean club my first two years of college and met some life-long friends and learned more about Korean culture.
Advice to Grade School Students
- Taking AP classes are always nice, however, if your school doesn't provide them, or you aren't motivated to take them, that is okay too. They do give a slight advantage, but in hindsight, it won't matter that much.
- Do extracurricular activities that might be helpful to the field you're interested in. For example, a robotics club after school might be helpful if you were interested in doing engineering in college. Even if it just interests you, but isn't necessarily related, if you can manage it, go ahead. For example, I did Mock Trial, which is pretty unrelated to engineering, but I made good friends and got to practice speaking under pressure. Groups like these usually tend to promote teamwork, camaraderie, patience, etc.
- Enjoy high school and do your best to get into the colleges you want to get into, however when it comes down to it, college acceptances or rejections won't be the end of the world, so don't stress TOO much over them.