Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Erin Drazich
Occupation: Research Assistant
Education (UR and additional): UR, Cambridge University
Current city/state/country of residence: Oxford, UK
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
I liked the flexibility of the majors and having no set undergraduate requirements. I was also attracted to the idea of the Take Five program from the beginning, and I was glad to have the opportunity to pursue that after my senior year.
When and how did you choose your major(s)?
It was a toss up between English or BCS. In the end, I decided to do BCS because I thought I could read in my free time, but I would not be able to learn the intricacies of the brain all on my own.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
As a student, I was involved in the fencing. It gave me a great group of friends and a great way to beat the stress of studying. I was also able to do some work as a student research assistant with the Rochester Center for Mind-Body Research – without this initial research experience, I doubt I would have been able to get the job I got after graduating.
Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?
Walt Makous was a great mentor in BCS. Unfortunately he has now retired and I haven’t really been in touch – but I have his wife’s red velvet cake recipe, and I think of him whenever I make it (it’s a great cake!). I also had a great relationship the Kathryn Argetsinger in the Classics department – I took Latin for 3 years, and I TAed for her for a semester.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take this path?
After graduation, I continued to work for the Rochester Center for Mind-Body Research. I knew I wanted to pursue research into psychology, psychiatry, and neurology, and to eventually go to medical school.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
For the past 4 years, I have worked as a research assistant at Oxford University. I research ageing and Alzheimer’s. I was drawn to working abroad after I did a junior year abroad, and my experiences in studying BCS gave me enthusiasm for neuropsychological research. This fall, I will be returning to school to study medicine at Cambridge.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
Because BCS has such a broad scope, I feel that I gained a wide range of critical thinking skills. Most especially, the BCS senior seminar was great for teaching me the analytical skills necessary for working in academia. Likewise, the requirements to learn basic computer programming and statistics have served me very well in my current career.
Where would you like to be in five years?
In five years, I hope to be finished with medical school and embarking on my specialty training. Having worked so closely with older adults, I really hope to pursue geriatric medicine or neurology.
What is your fondest memory of the University?
I’m not sure a have one single fondest memory of UR, but looking back on it and seeing how much it fostered my development, I reflect very fondly on my Tolkien class, or my Latin TAing sessions, or my late-night Orgo study groups. There were so many opportunities made available, and I’m glad I was able to take advantage of them.
What advice do you have for current students?
Take as many classes as you can that you enjoy. Go abroad. Do Take Five. Take every opportunity offered. Not only is that the best way to grow and learn, it’s also the best way to make yourself employable.