Sofia Ali, a first-year biology major at Loyola University Chicago shares her experiences as a new college student.
My first year as a biology major at Loyola is almost over, and it has gone pretty well. The majority of the students are pursuing careers in sciences like biology, chemistry, or nursing, so it’s pretty easy to bump into someone and establish a connection — especially the upperclassmen who have already taken classes I am currently taking. My biology course was a review of the material I learned in my IB classes in high school and chemistry has been a bit of a challenge. But, there are many resources at Loyola such as tutoring, study groups, and practicing example problems that have really helped me succeed.
I have labs once a week for three hours, — the class does seem a little long sometimes— but the biology labs are fascinating! During my first semester I was looking at slides in microscopes and drawing images of what I saw, whereas this semester, I have done more dissections and really gotten a chance to interact with different animals from various phyla’s. Dissecting them amazes me and reminds me how similar these creatures are to us, yet are so different as well. It has definitely given me a better understanding of the animals around us and how everything works together in our ecosystem.
I’ve noticed that many of my classes have mostly females, whereas males are mostly in the school of business. It’s encouraging to see so many women learning the same things as I am. Knowing I have fellow females working in the same field gives me confidence and a sense of comfort that we are all in this together. It also makes me feel stronger and more confident in my abilities and love of science.
I plan on pursuing a career in medical research to help others and hopefully alleviate some of their pain for a longer, pleasant future. I am very excited as I move forward with my next three years in college because I will be learning about new diseases and further advances in the medical community, and hopefully, build upon them in my future.
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!
Even though studies show both genders have the same abilities in science, a 2016 study from Colorado State University says women are more likely than men to get discouraged by a particular math class and give up on their dream of a career in science. Pullman Foundation women in science are challenging that statistic, though! There are almost 1,400 female scientists in the Pullman Scholar Community (72% of all our STEM majors).
Our Pullman Scholars and Alumnae are neuroscientists, nurses, chemists, research associates, cytogenetic technologists and more! They are a part of the 35.2% of female chemists, 11.1% of female physicists and astronomers, and 48% of female biological, agricultural, and environmental life scientists nationwide. They are the ones that want to find cures, learn how the world works, are treating our families, and trying to save the environment.
Science courses and labs are notorious for being difficult, but we have 30 current female Pullman Scholars (75% of all our female STEM majors) taking them right now and maintaining their 3.0+ GPAs. This week you’ll meet some of them and learn about some of the organizations they are a part of or follow. Science on!
Read Life as a Biochemistry Major here.
Read Life as a Biology Major here.