Q: What have you been doing after graduation and how did that come about?
Since graduating, I’ve started the MD portion of an MD/PhD program at Loma Linda University with the intention of pursuing a career in medical research and education. This has more or less been my goal since high school, and my Biola professors and advisors encouraged me along this path, giving me the academic resources to succeed and helping me through the application and interview process to where I am today.
Q: How are you using what you learned at Biola? How were you well prepared at Biola?
The science classes I took at Biola taught me to analyze data as well as to integrate and understand what is being taught. My Biola education has been an invaluable resource which I have drawn upon in medical school, and I anticipate it being at least as helpful in the PhD research years of my post-Biola schooling. In addition, Biola taught me to critically evaluate the worldviews underlying scientific theories and explore the relationship of the Christian faith and science, a rare skill in today’s culture which I will use throughout my career.
Q: When you started to work outside of Biola, what did you find surprising or different? (How) did you need to adjust? What additional support or experience do you wish you had at Biola to better prepare you for where you are now or where you plan to go?
The biggest difference I’ve noticed between my undergraduate and medical school experiences is simply the volume of information presented; medical school is more difficult because there is so much to learn at once, not because any particular class is harder than an undergraduate class. I wish I had been forced to develop more rigorous and disciplined study skills as an undergraduate. In addition, I wish there had been more full-fledged and possibly long-term research opportunities for students to carry through a research project from start to finish: experimental design, lab work, data analysis, writing, presentation, and even publication (if possible). I had to get the bulk of my research experiences in summer programs off-campus, and as a result my projects were short and disjointed.
Q: What was your favorite thing about studying the sciences at Biola?
Studying science at Biola was awesome, because, in addition to a rigorous scientific education, there was a real sense of community that developed among the students and faculty. Particularly in upper division classes and labs, the small class sizes allowed us to get to know each other, and the professors consistently showed an interest in the students’ lives. I am generally a more reserved and introverted person, but whether it was more serious events like Christmas chapels and Bible studies to break up the suffering-which-produces-character of Analytical Chemistry lectures or more fun events like the search for the best burger, the Bardwell Olympics, movie nights at professors’ houses, and the year-end honoring-not-roasting of graduating seniors and professors, I felt like part of the Biola science family, and that’s an experience for which I will always be grateful.
Q: What was the worst or hardest thing about your time at Biola?
The hardest thing about my time at Biola was trying to fit in everything I needed and wanted to do; I crammed in a biochemistry major, a math minor, several extra biology and physics classes (just for fun), the Torrey Honors Institute, and three years playing in the Biola Symphonic Winds, along with several other extra-curricular activities. There was no end to the scheduling conflicts I faced, and my frustrations were compounded by having to re-take several classes for which I already had AP credit. But, I was persistent, and Biola professors worked with me and were flexible to help me accomplish my goals.
Q: What do you wish you knew as an undergraduate? What is one piece of advice you would give to students who want to enter your field?
Learn how to study; even if you’re smart enough to get by with little studying in college, you will eventually reach a point that studying is a must, and it helps to have a system already in place.
Q: Also, I would love for you to share your experience in the summers at Loma Linda - how did you get the position? What did you do and learn? How did it shape you?
I spent the summers after my sophomore and junior years in the Undergraduate Training Program of the Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine at Loma Linda University. I found out about this program through the resources provided by Dr. Harvey Havoonjian and the Biola Health Careers Club; I applied to several programs, was delighted to be accepted into this one, and off I went. This program includes biomedical research experience in a laboratory, culminating in a poster session at Loma Linda’s annual Health Disparities Symposium. In addition, there are weekly health disparities seminars in which speakers present their research into ways that health disparities can be addressed at the molecular level, weekly showings of a health disparities video series, and weekly skill building workshops which address issues such as bioethics, effective presentation, and the art of networking. Participating in this program has been an incredibly positive experience for me. In the first place, it has given me valuable research experience. I have learned what it is like to work full time in a biomedical research laboratory, and I have gained insight into what the research process entails. I participated in the design and execution of experiments, and I learned how to analyze the results and draw reasonable conclusions from the data. I learned valuable lab techniques, but more importantly, I learned how to work well in a lab setting with a diverse group of people, ranging from technicians to PhD students to the director of the lab, to accomplish a goal. This experience confirmed my interest in pursuing a career in research. In addition, the health disparities portion of this program really opened my eyes to the need for better medical care right here in our country, and it gave me a passion to try to make that happen. I would highly recommend this summer program to Biola students!
Q: What is the Lord teaching you now that you have left college?
The Lord is teaching me that being an adult comes with a lot of responsibilities, and life is complicated. Even while I’ve been adjusting to the higher work load of medical school, I’ve faced a series of complications (car-related, housing-related, and finding-a-new-community-and-church-related) which threaten to overwhelm. Still, the Lord in his mercy provides, and while I am continuing to adapt to my new circumstances, I can draw upon the many blessings the Lord has already given me, not least among which is everything I gained from my time at Biola.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like the faculty, current, future, or former students to know?
Making the choice to come to Biola was one of the most difficult choices I’ve faced. I got into every college to which I applied, and Biola was the smallest, least prestigious of the lot. However, it was also the only Christian school and the only school where I could study science as well as a broad range of biblical and theological studies and liberal arts. I weighed all of the factors as I perceived them at the time, and Biola won by a small margin. Looking back on that choice now, I can easily say that I made the right decision. Biola has been an overwhelming blessing in my life, and if I had to choose again, I would choose Biola in a heartbeat.