Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Renata Mazurek
UR Major: Biology, B.A.
Other UR Majors/Minors: Physics, B.A.
Additional Education: Human Nutrition, M.S., Columbia University
Current City, State of Residence: Be’er Sheva, Israel, at the Medical School for International Health (but an original Rochesterian)
Job Title: Medical Student
Family: Mom, Dad, and younger sister in Rochester, NY
Community Activities: while abroad- member of the American Medical Student Association (former chapter board member) and of the organization Save A Child’s Heart
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
My extracurriulars were both on- and off-campus. Being from Rochester, I stayed connected to local activities and various volunteering projects. Combining being on the Students’ Association Cabinet, playing JV, club, and intramural basketball, TA-ing in Chemistry, and tutoring with the UR Potential program, I had to strategize week-to-week on how to accomplish everything I wanted to do, plus do them all well. On the whole, that pushed me to stagger my involvement- planning the least overlap of outside and collegiate sports, volunteering on weekends more than weekdays, shadowing over summers to be available for teaching during the academic year. So my largest gain was having a variety of life exposures and making myself capable of maintaining that.
What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?
I would have majored in biology regardless, but I wished I had come in with idea that I could explore other options of study even with a pre-med route. I think I limited myself in the beginning with the notion that I should only be focused on science and that other intellectual curiosity was secondary. It would have been worthwhile recognizing earlier on that the undergraduate level does allow practically, and not just theoretically, for following multiple interests once having an intended direction, even if unrelated.
What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?
My opinion is a bit biased since I continued on to graduate school, but I knew that I wanted to have higher education beyond undergrad. It depends on individual goals and on the field. Graduate school can be an opportunity to pick up more insight or skills or to narrow down a niche. Consider whether more schooling will make you more competitive or help set up connections; how it might make a difference in the long run vs the short run; and if it is necessary at all for the work that you are going into.
What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying biology?
Keep your mind open. You may have a good idea about what you want to do, you may not have a targeted interest; either way, look into what is available to you. It may not necessarily straight off be a research position. Any kind of experience is valuable; you may discover something you had never heard of before along the way. Often you have to make your own communication lines, contacting professors, going to talk to people conducting research or whatever it is that you want to be involved in. Don’t be intimidated. It’s surprising sometimes how following through on a simple conversation can bring more than a few options into the picture.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?
I am currently in my third year at an American medical school abroad that is based in global health. Medicine was an intrinsic interest that I gradually realized so I had a long and thoughtful process to determine my commitment to this field and in recognizing that it best meets how I want to live my life, part of which includes bridging the experiences of how health operates in different settings.
In five years I hope to be well into residency!