What Clubs Are You In? Campus Clubs Galore

With over 250 different student organizations to choose from, it’s no wonder that UR undergrads are always so busy!  The many opportunities offered by the various clubs and sports provide the campus population an outlet to share their interests and channel their passions. Listed below are some examples of the diverse and involved undergrads that embody the quintessentially Rochester student body.


Name: Alyssa Wolf
Major: Epidemiology
Class Year: 2015
“I’m in Blue Crew. Blue Crew is a school sports spirit organization. We go to sporting events, and we cheer a lot and scream.  We go to games for basketball, football, soccer, field hockey, and cross country.

Name: Nicholas Scacchetti
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class Year: 2015
“I’m with the American Institute of Chemical Engineering here on campus. Right now, I’m heading up the ChemE car competition, where we build a small car to run in a competition that runs off a chemical reaction. We’re going to be building a hydrogen fuel cell car. We have all the parts and we’re putting it together right now.”

Name: Will Burns
Major: Business
Class Year: 2015
“I Rock Climb. I got into it when I was younger, and I wanted to continue it into college.”

Colleges against Cancer

Name: Julia Weisman
Major: Psychology and Business
Class Year: 2018
“The CAC (Colleges against Cancer) does a lot of advertising about certain types of cancer. Each month is focused on a different disease. We are focusing on lung and pediatric cancer; it was breast cancer month in October. We have lots of different events going on. We have had dinners in Douglass, and we do fun things on campus. We just like to promote awareness of the disease.”


Name: Dan Hoffman
Major: Music
Class Year: 2015
“I’m not in a club because I spend so much time dancing. That in itself is almost like an extracurricular thing, and I’m always choreographing and working with dancers in other classes. I just don’t have time for clubs.”

Name: Horacio Quezada
Major: Undeclared
Class Year: 2018
“I’m in a couple of them. One is called Salsita, which is part of a major organization called SALSA. It’s a leadership club, we learn about leadership positions. I’m also in Newman, which is the Catholic community here on campus. In Salsita, I’m the business manager.”


Name: Orkhan Abdullayev
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class Year: 2016 (Grad Student)
Club: BPG is the Ballet Performance Group, it is a club that is dedicated to preserving classical technique on campus, as well as allowing students to choreograph their own pieces in a variety of styles such as contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, and tap.

Name: Carola Figueroa
Major: Biology
Class Year: 2016
Club: Yes, I’m in Alpha Phi Omega, it’s a community service fraternity. I’m also in the Society of Undergraduate Biology Students. I joined APO because I love service.

Name: Evan Mclaughlin
Major: Computer Science
Class Year: 2016
“I’m in Chi Phi fraternity. I was the secretary last year which was fun. I did all the paper pushing in the background.”

Track & Field

Name: Bobbi Spiegel
Major: Health, Behavior, and Society
Class Year: 2017
“I’m on the varsity track team, and I’m on grass roots. I’m also involved in Jewish life, like Chabad and Hillel. For track, we have practice six days a week, because the NCAA mandates that we have one day off. Once we hit January 1st, we have a meet every weekend until the end of school. We actually stay past the end of school, because our meets go into late May/ early June. It’s a big dedication, since we also have weight room time. My main event is long jump. I also sprint and do triple jump.”

Name: Alex Samuelson
Major: Neuroscience and Political Science
Class Year: 2017
“I’m in Delta Gamma, one of the sororities here on campus.  What we’re doing right now is supporting our philanthropy, which is Service for Sight, which supports blinded veterans who have been wounded, and also their families. We’re selling bracelets for the blinded veterans’ association, and later, we’re going to have an event, this coming Saturday, where we wrap gifts for the families of soldiers who are currently deployed.

mariachiName: Marcia Des Jardin
Major: Molecular Genetics
Class Year: 2015, 2016T5
“UR Mariachi is really cool group of people. I don’t speak Spanish at all, but I sing in Spanish. It’s a lot of fun to get out of your comfort zone, and get to know people you wouldn’t necessarily know before. You can play violin, guitar, bass, trumpet, flute, accordion – whatever you want, just come to our rehearsals on Wednesday at 4:30.”

Name: Molly Goldstein
Major: Music, BCS
Class Year: 2017
“This past weekend, the Frisbee team actually went to Montreal, and we had a tournament there. We did pretty well. We won a few games and had a lot of fun. It was a very rewarding experience with the team. It’s a nice balance between being very serious about our playing, but also having a good time on the field as well.”

Name: Hadley Brown
Major: English Language/Media Communications, Psychology
Class Year: 2015
“For U of R’s Alpha Phi organization, I’m actually the parental and alumni affairs coordinator, so I work a lot with outreach to the outside community, trying to bring them back to the school, get some school spirit, and to introduce the girls to some people they can network with after college.”

Name: Milagros Garcia
Major: Psychology, English language/Media Communications
Class Year: 2017
SALSA, the Spanish & Latino Students Association, is basically a community, you don’t have to be Hispanic of any type to join, basically, we just discuss issues that affect the Latin-American community as well as try to make ourselves known that we’re a part of campus.


Name: Liza Gerwig
Major: BCS
Class Year: 2016
Sihir is the belly dancing group, and it’s really fun.  There’s a lot of cool, wacky people, and we do cool, fancy things, and put on nice shows.”

Name: Shelby Corning
Major: Environmental Science
Class Year: 2017
“I’m on the varsity Softball team. We went to nationals last spring for the first time in school history, which was really cool. It was a big step for the program. I’m a left fielder.”

Name: Rachel Milner
Major: Biology
Class Year: 2015
“The Strong Jugglers were formed in 1995, and we started off as a bunch of kids who went over to Strong Memorial Hospital to juggle for the patients. It’s evolved into a fine circus and performing arts organization. We like to perform on and off-campus. It’s very casual: anyone can join!”

Name: Duncan Graham
Major: Economics
Class Year: 2015
Mock Trial is a club that does what the name implies, we put on trials. There are attorneys, there are witnesses, and we compete with schools across the east coast and the south. We’re even thinking of going to California. We compete, we have attorneys, witnesses, and it’s a whole lot of fun.”

ArcheryName: Allison Colarusso
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class Year: 2016
Archery right now: we shoot arrows… at targets.”

Name: Paul Gabrys
Major: Chemical Engineering
Class Year: 2014, 2015T5
Newman Community is where people who identify as Catholic want come together to grow as a community.”


Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Daniel Goldstein

goldsteinName:  Daniel J. Goldstein, M.D.

UR Major:  Biology

Other UR Majors/Minors: Music

Additional Education: M.D. from SUNY Upstate Medical University

Current City, State of Residence: Cleveland, OH

Job Title: Anesthesiology Resident

Employer: University Hospitals Case Medical Center

Family: Wife: Amanda (Perlman) Goldstein, B.A., B.S.N from the University of Rochester

The U of R biology department laid the foundation for my current career in anesthesiology. Starting day one, the individual attention that the professors provided allowed me to explore all reaches of biology. From participating in research, to becoming the head-teaching assistant for the introductory biology course, I was able to confirm and develop my passion for medicine. More interestingly, the biology department allowed me to investigate my passion for classical piano at the Eastman School of Music.  Piece of advice – explore your passions outside your major. There is nothing that graduate schools or the job world love more than a well-rounded applicant.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Laura (Wellington) Miller

millerName:  Laura (Wellington) Miller, MD

UR Major:  Biology

Other UR Majors/Minors: Medical Anthropology

Additional Education: MD from Drexel University College of Medicine, 2009, currently pursuing Masters in Public Health (executive MPH program) from the University of MN

Current City, State of Residence: Minneapolis, MN

Job Title: Faculty Physician, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, North Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program

Employer: University of Minnesota

Family: married to Zach Miller, step-daughter Jersey Miller (age 6)

Community Activities: board member of Risk Management Committee, YMCA Camp Widjiwagan; organizer/advisor of Underserved Medicine Track at North Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program, lead professor of India public health study abroad experience Jan 2013, University of MN; monthly volunteer preceptor at Phillips Neighborhood Clinic, through U of MN Medical School; active participant MN United (organization to defeat anti-gay marriage amendment in Minnesota); active member Homeless Healthcare Coalition, U of MN; faculty advisor Global Health Track, U of MN

How did you choose your major(s)?

I loved biology in high school and had an inspiring teacher for all three years that I took biology during high school.  I loved the logic, loved being able to understand the world around me.  Also, I knew I was headed toward medical school, so I was particularly interested in the human applications of biology.  Medical anthropology, my minor, was an interest because I have always known that I wanted to work internationally, and I felt compelled to start trying to understand other health care systems and perspectives.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them? 

I worked in a lab at Strong Memorial Hospital and LOVED it.  I worked in Dr. Quivey’s lab, studying the bacteria that causes dental cavities.  I learned a lot about bench research, knew that it was not a future career for me, but feel so lucky to have learned so much from that experience.  I also spent my summers guiding 3-7 week white-water canoeing trips through an organization in Minnesota.  I would highly advise not ONLY doing activities that are directly related to your major.  I got a great deal out of my summers guiding wilderness trips and know it has added to me tremendously as a physician.

What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?

Honestly, I wish I had known for certain that my career path would unfold in a wonderful way.  Many mentors and supporters reassured me of this, but it is so hard to truly believe this when you are working so hard to obtain your goals.  I also wish I would have known how flexible I could make my path within my career.  I took a year off during medical school and lived in Peru, South America, working and volunteering.  It was an incredible experience, one I will never forget and has added to my life in innumerable ways.  Actively seeking experiences such as these should be encouraged for young students, whatever their interests are.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I took a year off after college and worked and I am so thankful that I did.  Graduate school is very intense (I went to medical school), so I needed the year to take a breather, travel, earn some money and feel autonomous and prepare myself for the rigors of entering another four solid years of education.   I am so thankful I did that, as well as the year I took off during medical school (between 3rd and 4th year).  I highly recommend taking time off.

What was your first job after graduation? What college experiences prepared or qualified you for that position?

After graduating from college, I worked as a medical assistant in a family medicine clinic in Rochester for a year.  It was a great job for me – allowed flexibility along with some stability, I enjoyed seeing my future career first-hand without being in school, and I got to learn so much from my surroundings.  I did not have any specific qualifications for the job, I knew someone who had worked there and she referred me.  I learned everything I needed by being there.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I am a family physician and faculty member at a family medicine residency program in Minneapolis, MN.  I decided that I wanted to be a doctor when I was young (age 13, I think) because of a mentor of mine.  I chose family medicine because I enjoy treating the entire patient, instead of individual parts.  I also really get a lot out of developing relationships with patients.  I chose my career because I wanted to have many different aspects to my job, including outpatient clinic, inpatient hospital medicine, practicing obstetrics, and teaching.  In 5 years, I hope to be still working in academics, finished with my MPH, continuing to develop avenues to work in underserved and international health areas.  I love where I work and hope I am still there with many of the same colleagues.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Joanna Brougher

defaultName: Joanna Brougher ’04

Education (UR and additional): BS (Microbiology), BA (German), University of Rochester, 2004; MPH, University of Rochester; JD, Boston College Law School

Current city/state of residence: Rochester, NY

Job Title: Senior Counsel

Employer: Vaccinex

Family: Married with a one-year old son and two cats.

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?  

I chose the University of Rochester for several reasons. First, my family is in Rochester and I wanted to stay close to them. Second, I wanted a school where I could get a top-notch education in science and languages while still allowing me to broaden my experiences through extra-curricular activities. The UofR allowed me to do just that. I was able to double-major in Microbiology and German, minor in Russian, spend one year abroad in Cologne, Germany, and also play on the school’s tennis team.

When and how did you choose your major?  

When I began college, I was determined to be a doctor, and specifically, a doctor who worked with infectious diseases. So, like many other pre-med students, I focused on biology. Since my interest was mainly with infectious diseases, I decided to focus on microbiology and immunology since that would give me a good foundation to learning about how diseases work. In addition to majoring in microbiology, I also majored in German. The reason I chose German is because I was born in Germany and have spent a great deal of time there.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

The main activity that I participated in was to be a member of the UofR’s women tennis team. In fact, I was a three-time All American in tennis. I really enjoyed my time on the team. It taught be a lot about hard-work, dedication, and being able to manage my time. At the same time, it allowed me to meet a lot of great people who I am still friends with to this day. For instance, my doubles partner at the UofR was a neighbor of mine in Boston and also a bridesmaid at my wedding.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

Instead of going to medical school like I always imagined, I decided to go to law school and become a lawyer. In law school, I decided to focus on patent law since that would allow me to use my background in science. After law school, I spent a few years working at an international law firm in Boston focusing on patent law within the biotechnology space. I moved back to Rochester in November 2010, and now work for a biotechnology company where I can combine my interests in science, medicine and the law.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am involved with a number of projects these days. First and foremost, I am the in-house legal counsel at a biotechnology company in Rochester called Vaccinex, Inc. The company focuses on developing novel therapeutic antibodies for use in treating cancer and various autoimmune diseases. I handle basically any and all legal issues that the company deals with, including intellectual property. I really enjoy working with the company because I am able to get involved in all aspects of the company and learn about what it takes to develop novel therapeutics. In addition, I am an Adjunct at the Harvard School of Public Health where I teach a class on intellectual property and healthcare technologies. Teaching has always been an interest of mine because it’s such a great way to connect with students and help them understand a specific topic. Based on the class I teach, I have also been working on a book. Between work and having a one-year son at home, it’s been difficult to find time to write, but I hope to have the book finished this summer.

What advice do you have for current students?

Do not try to rush through your undergraduate experience – it will be over before you know it. Take your time to fully nurture and develop your interests. Definitely take advantage of programs like Take 5, and various other programs that let you combine your BS or BA with a graduate degree. For instance, I did a combined BS-MPH program which let me combine the last year of my undergraduate studies with the first year of my graduate studies. In the end, I was able to get a Masters degree in less time than I would have otherwise.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Karissa Page

pageName: Karissa M. Page, MPH

UR Major:  Biology

Other UR Majors/Minors: Psychology (major)

Additional Education: Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Current City, State of Residence: Baton Rouge, LA

Job Title: Project Coordinator

Employer: Acadiana C.A.R.E.S.

How did you choose your major(s)?

I was initially pre-med.  Most everyone I knew had decided their major early on in their freshmen year, maybe even before they came to campus, but I was undeclared for as long as possible.  I first declared to be a psychology major, but then realized that I only needed a few more classes to also have a major in biology.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

 I was involved with the UR’s College Republicans.  Leading a student group, planning activities and meetings for the group, and tactfully handling issues and controversies are skills I practiced with the College Republicans and use consistently in my work now.

What are some specific skills students should develop during an internship?

Students should hone their writing skills and have exposure to writing different types of work such as grant applications, progress reports, business letters, memorandums, and information for the public.  Students should strive to be exposed to as much of the organization they intern with as possible.  Lastly, make connections.  You never know where you will cross paths with someone again.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

There is no proper order to follow.  Some people (employers, internship programs) embrace going straight from undergrad to graduate school, others criticize it.  I think it was easier to go straight to graduate school and continue with the life of a student – varying schedules, late nights, writing research papers.  For some, it’s very hard to return to that lifestyle once you’ve become accustomed to set working hours, a paycheck, having free time at night and on the weekends.  I went to graduate school directly from undergrad.  That seemed to be the “expected” route for UR students, and de rigueur for schools in the Northeast.  In other parts of the country, the opposite is true.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying biology?

Look for jobs that will bolster your skill set and professional tool box.  Continue to learn and grow, and push yourself out of your comfort zone.  An employer should want to see you mature professionally, even if that means you outgrow your position or their company, and move onto another job. 

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

 I coordinate the activities of a multiyear grant from the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to improve HIV testing and linkage to care for prisoners in the Baton Rouge area.  My master of public health is focused on program and policy development.  I like creating new healthcare programs from scratch and bringing them to fruition.  In five years, I’d like to be managing an organization that provides access to care and quality of life improvement programs for all ages in suburban/rural communities.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Jenna Anderson

andersonName: Jenna Anderson

UR Major:  Biology (Microbiology and Immunology)

Other UR Majors/Minors: Minors in Mathematics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Additional Education: Masters degree in Biology (Infection Biology and Immunology) from Uppsala University, Sweden

Current City, State of Residence: Uppsala, Sweden

Job Title: PhD student in Vaccine Development (with focuses on Virology and Clinical Animal Science)

Employer: Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) in Uppsala, Sweden

Family: Parents and sister in CT, USA and twin brother in CA, USA. Plus lots of friends (Swedish, American, Danish, German, Lithuanian, etc) in Uppsala!

Community Activities: Active member of Uppsalas Akademiska Roddarsällskap (Uppsala’s Academic Rowing Club); senior member of Västgöta Nation (similar to a fraternity in the US); member of the American Women’s Club in Stockholm, Sweden

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was involved in HSA, City Cycles, and many other groups to varying degrees. I was also a resident/community advisor, a tutor, and teaching /lab/workshop/office assistants. These activities introduced me to a variety of students, faculty, and non-faculty members with different skills, interests, and perspectives and I think the greatest gift I gained was a tremendous respect for people.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

I found many of my professors and other faculty members inspiring role models as a student, but I consider certain teaching assistants as well as older friends to be my mentors. I have some contact over Facebook with those TAs and contact via Skype, fb, and visits with those older and wiser friends.

What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?

If I had known I would probably work in academia, I would have spent more time attending seminars and reading scientific articles. That said, I’m glad that I didn’t know! Not knowing the future, I was able to spend the present broadening my knowledge in many of the subjects that interested me, and I think that helps me today.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I have heard that it’s mentally and logistically easier to go to graduate school right have after graduation, but I think that you should do whatever feels right at the time, of course coupled with a sense of what you want your future to be like. You don’t HAVE to get a PhD just because all of your friends are, especially if you don’t want to stay in academia, but you might need that Masters degree to work as a researcher in a company, or maybe you just want to switch things up? Everything’s possible, so do what makes the most sense for you at this time in your life.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying biology?

Read scientific articles! Make friends in different fields; a cross-disciplinary perspective can improve your approach to

certain problems and deepen your understanding or curiosity. If you do a PhD, consider the people more than the subject; you will likely spend the next 4 years with them so make sure you can thrive together!

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I chose to be a PhD student because I like the challenges and diversity of academia. In five years, I would like to be a researcher on the long road to professorship, working with insects as vectors of disease, and have greatly expanded my knowledge of proteins and insects alike. I love living in Sweden and I think that I will continue to live abroad, but hope to continue to expand my international collaborations to include the US.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Sabrina Gmuca

gmucaName: Sabrina Gmuca

Occupation: Pediatrics Resident

Education (UR and additional): University of Rochester, SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

Current city/state/country of residence: New York, NY

Location of your study abroad experience: Berlin

Duration of your study abroad experience: 1 month summer immersion program

Community activities: Circle K, UofR Sailing Team

When and why did you choose to study abroad? What factors (your major, other commitments, Take Five) did you weigh as you were making the decision to study abroad?

I knew I wanted to study abroad while in college but I also wanted to make sure I fulfilled all of my pre-med requirements. When I found out I could spend a month over summer vacation studying in Berlin towards my German minor, I knew that was the perfect option for me. The summer study abroad programs really allow you to maximize your college education.

Who at UR encouraged you to pursue this option?

My German teacher freshman year promoted and recommended the summer program in Berlin. Everything was very well organized and went flawlessly.

Beyond the academic work, how did you engage with your new “community” and culture while you were away from Rochester?

All the students had a host family which really allowed us to experience the German culture and language through the eyes of German people rather than spending all of our time with other UofR students.

What skills, tools, or knowledge gained from studying abroad do you draw on since graduation?

The skills I draw on the most is my adaptability to new living environments and work situations. If you are able to connect with people who speak a different language and live on a different continent, you have a good knowledge base when it comes to interpersonal skills.

What advice do you have for current students contemplating studying abroad?

I think if you are even thinking about it, go for it and study abroad! Challenging yourself and going outside your comfort zone is a great personal experience that you will cherish years later.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Kimberly Herman

hermanName: Kimberly N. Herman

UR Major:  Biology

Other UR Majors/Minors: Russian Language

Additional Education: Ph.D in Toxicology, in Progress
Current City, State of Residence: Raleigh, NC

Job Title: Graduate Research Assistant

Employer: North Carolina State University

How did you choose your major(s)?

Choosing a major came easily to me.  As someone who wanted to pursue an education in science research, biology was an easy choice as it gave me a broad background in science.  I also chose to study Russian language, as I was very fond of languages and wanted to pursue one that many people were less familiar with.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I think this is a very personal choice.  I think if you are able to go straight through graduate school right after graduation that is great, as you are able to get to your end goal faster.  However, taking a break and working in between allows you to recharge after college as well as bring in some diverse skills that you acquire from a job and might not learn from books alone.

What was your first job after graduation? What college experiences prepared or qualified you for that position?

Upon graduating from the University of Rochester, I took a cancer clinical research position at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  At this job, I worked closely with patients who had cancer and monitored their health and progress while being treated with chemotherapy agents.   This was a good starter position for me.  My background in biology and anatomy/physiology as well as my student work experience in clinical research offices helped prepare me for this position.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying biology?

My biggest suggestion is to find a volunteer position or a student work position in a lab or in the clinical setting depending on which you want to work in.  Getting into graduate school or finding a job are both very competitive fields and all the extra experience you can gain during college will be a great benefit.  Take advantage of the fact that URMC is right next door and make some connections there.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

Currently I am working on my PhD in toxicology.  While working in cancer clinical research after college, I decided that being on the treatment end of science was not where I wanted to be, instead I wanted to be at the bench helping discover new or better treatment options for patients.  Hopefully in five years I will have finished my PhD and be finishing up my postdoctoral position and finding a faculty position in toxicology.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Kyeesha Becoats

becoatsName: Kyeesha Tamique Becoats

UR Major:  Biology

UR Minors: American Sign Language

Additional Education: Masters of Science: Physiology and Biophysics

Current City, State of Residence: Stony Brook, NY

Job Title: Student

Employer: Stony Brook University School of Medicine

Family: Long term relationship, no children

Community Activities: Mentorship and Health Outreach through Student National Medical Association

How did you choose your major(s)?

I have always been interested in the human body and the way it works so it was natural for me to go into biology. I was also very interested in learning about other languages and cultures; I would have majored in American Sign Language if I had more time in the day. I choose my major and minor by going after subjects that interested me and that I wanted to know more about. One thing I enjoyed about attending U of R is that I could jump right into any subject I was interested in learning about and have a great experience.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

One of my greatest mentors and supporters was Michelle Bonville who is an administrator in the Pediatrics department at Strong Memorial Hospital. I worked for her and other administrators from sophomore year until I graduated in 2007. Michelle was so inspiring and supportive of me throughout college and into my years of working. We do still keep in touch; I visit and email her from time to time. One thing that Michelle said to me when I was graduating that has always stuck with me was “Your education and your degree is one thing that no one can ever take from you.”

What are some specific skills students should develop during an internship?

There are a few skills students should learn from any internship.  1) Learning how to take constructive criticism and using it to enhance your work in any field. 2) Learning how to work both independently and in teams. 3) Learning what you want in a mentor and what you don’t want. Mentorship is very important; very few people gain success completely on their own. So if you find a mentor early on it can help guide you to achieving your goals.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

Deciding on whether to work or continue with your education is a very personal decision and is dependent on the goals of the student. I decided to work right after graduating because I personally needed time to grow confidence in my abilities and mature before I went on to graduate school and eventually medical school. If the student feels ready to continue on immediately with school after graduating I don’t feel like it is negative, unless your field requires you to have a certain amount of experience before you enter school. 

What was your first job after graduation? What college experiences prepared or qualified you for that position?

My first job after graduating was at the University of Rochester Medical Center where I worked in the neuro-anatomy lab of Dr. Julie Fudge as research technician. My degree in biology, especially the laboratory classes that taught laboratory techniques, definitely prepared me for my position.  However, I did not know everything that was necessary for this position. Being honest and open to learning helped me to develop skills that I still use today.

Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Renata Mazurek

MazurekName: 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!