Amel Baker, a junior at Loyola University Chicago studying psychology and cellular/molecular neuroscience, shares her affinity for science and how she gives back to the community with tutoring for four departments and starting the LUC S.T.A.R.
Any effort I put into a science class, I see it coming back again in the next. For example, when I first started out with general chemistry, we discussed the behavior of acids and bases. Almost three years later, I am being reminded of its importance in biochemistry when looking at hemoglobin’s binding affinity for oxygen. The best part is the reactions science students discuss are ongoing every second of the day — basically, science and I relate on a personal level.
In the classroom, I transform into an aspiring chemist, biologist, physicist, and neuroscientist. Once I leave, these moments follow me to influence my everyday schedule. I currently tutor for a few departments on campus where I try to dance through each session with different science partners — sometimes it’s fast-paced with organic chemistry. Other days, I get to slow dance with statistics as I discuss the importance of properly approaching the null hypothesis. I love tutoring these subjects because not only do they force me to revisit old friends, but I get to realize that there is still a lot of room for the relationship. Tutoring essentially challenges me to keep the questions going and the eager curiosity alive. To keep it fresh, I work with a freshman in CPS at Curie High School every Saturday through a Loyola program called TNT. I am one of many academic coaches who is dedicated to keeping true relationships with freshmen and seeing them not only graduate but succeed.
Some nights, I explore astronomy through a student organization I helped form. Astronomy has always been an interest of mine, but the puzzle that is my education did not have room for any extra pieces. Our small group gets together to think about the expanding universe and all the beautiful things that come with this science. We’ve done a few community engagements, observatory visits, and led our own little fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network.
Last summer, I was at Case Western Reserve’s School of Medicine for SMDEP, Summer Medical and Dental Program, now called Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). The experience was amazing. I was able to shadow at a hospital in multiple departments including family medicine, neurosurgery, and the emergency department. After observing a C3-C5 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery correcting for alive motor cells that could not relay, my desire to pursue neurosurgery became confirmed. The program celebrates diversity in medicine by building community with groups of students from all different backgrounds and universities while exploring medicine’s role with different demographics through seminars with health professionals. Because academics are a priority in all health-related fields, there were supplemental courses in biologies, chemistries, and mathematics depending where you tested. Lastly, I was part of a public health research project that was presented to a panel of physicians at the conclusion of the program. I encourage all current freshmen and sophomores to apply for the summer. There are multiple different sites so this medical adventure could be anywhere!
Jennifer Munoz, a sophomore at Case Western Reserve University, shares her love of science as a biochemistry major and nutrition minor.
Being a Biochemistry major at Case Western Reserve University is very challenging, yet rewarding at the same time. It allows me to combine my love of both biology and chemistry, and I get to learn so many great things; which also encourages me to look forward to taking every required class no matter how challenging it may be.
One of the things I love most about taking science classes is connecting my lessons to the real world. For example, in organic chemistry we learn about reaction mechanisms and how organic molecules react with one another, how certain medicinal drugs are synthesized, how the specific structure of a molecule gives the spicy flavor in chili peppers, and depending on whether a molecule has a single, double, or triple bond how it will react. Learning how the world works in the classroom is phenomenal.
I also absolutely love the lab component of organic chemistry! We apply the concepts we learn during lectures in an actual lab setting. We think critically about how the reactants will react with each other and which products are produced. One of my favorite labs this semester was synthesizing azo dyes. Every student was assigned a modified aniline compound and an azonium salt. With all the different combinations possible, the lab was filled with almost every shade of the rainbow!
I am also a part of Alpha Chi Sigma, the only professional chemistry fraternity. It is a great community to be a part of because we volunteer at different elementary schools and events. We spread the appreciation for chemistry by promoting events such as Science Olympiad, which allows kids to be enthusiastic scientists!
When I graduate I want to attend medical school and learn even more about how the human body works. After that, I would love to help people lead longer and healthier lives!