Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Serene Habayeb
Education (UR and additional): BS in BCS and Minor in Psychology (Undergrad at University of Rochester) Currently Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, Concentration in Children, Family and Cultures (Grad at Catholic University of America)
Current city/state/country of residence: Washington, DC
When and how did you choose your major(s)?
I started college, as many UR students, on a pre med track knowing I was interested in human biology. As a freshmen I took some neuroscience, psychology and BCS classes and realized I was most fascinated with understanding biology of the brain and the relationship with human behavior. I found BCS was the perfect combination to explore these questions, providing me with a throrough understanding of basic neurobiology through clinical and cognitive implications. UR gave me the opportunity to take many courses and figure out what I was really interested in so I didn’t declare a major until the end of my sophomore year.
What resources did you use on campus that you would recommend current students use?
Take advantage of research opportunities. Especially as a BCS major, a lot of potential career opportunities may be researched focused – so try it out. Luckily, UR has such a variety of research projects you can certainly find a lab that would match your interests.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was president of SADACA (Student Association for the Development of Arab Cultural Awareness). Not only was I able to share and promote my Middle Eastern culture with fellow students, I became a part of a larger network of students and organizations that represented the diversity of the school both among students and with administrators through town hall meetings.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take this path?
Immediately after graduation I completed a 2-year predoctoral research fellowship in developmental social neuroscience at Emory University studying early typical and atypical social development and its implications for early screening of autism spectrum disorders. I was almost certain I wanted to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology, but took this opportunity to further refine my research interests, gain invaluable research skills to prepare me for graduate school, and to experience a full-time career after graduation before returning to school.
What advice do you have for current students?
Take advantage of UR’s cluster program and try out a variety of courses, it will help you figure out where your interests lie. Also, study abroad, the curriculum allows for most students to easily study abroad and continue their course path. Once real life starts, its harder to find the time for such adventures so take advantage of the opportunities that UR provides.