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Elizabeth – STEM Journey to Medicine

Elizabeth, TechGirl 2015, USA

The summer before starting college in 2015, I had the privilege to be a part of TechGirls. Throughout the course of one week, I met girls from around the world and learned about their cultures, interests, and even some dance moves. I was surprised how quickly I was able to connect with them through our shared interest in STEM. They were so passionate and driven to impact their communities and inspired me to do so as well. Going into college I knew I wanted to learn more about problem-solving and design, so I chose to study mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

While at Carnegie Mellon, I participated in the first Ice Hockey Make-A-Thon, where I designed and prototyped a new hockey rink board system for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The experience gave me the chance to combine my love for sports with engineering to help prevent player injuries. I worked in a team with people from all majors and presented the project in front of the President of the Penguins, the CEO of the materials company Covestro, and professors from Carnegie Mellon. My team won the award for “Best Prototype,” and Covestro is building on our ideas to innovate new boards for the rink. I also interned at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, located in Chinatown NYC, and developed a community health project on glaucoma and eye care. Our goal was to encourage those in the Asian community in Chinatown to receive regular eye exams and raise awareness of their increased risk for glaucoma. All the pamphlets and information sheets I made were in English and Chinese and a presentation given at a senior center was done in both languages as well. I was able to interact directly with the health center’s patients and cater our outreach specifically for the Asian and immigrant community. 

In my final year at Carnegie Mellon, I decided to make the switch from pursuing a career in engineering to pursuing one in medicine. In my experience engineering and designing products, I knew that my innovations would have an impact, but I never had the opportunity to see that impact for myself. Medicine has always been fascinating to me, but the field has become even more compelling because it will allow me to apply my engineering problem-solving skills to situations while also giving me the opportunity to interact personally with patients and see my impact first-hand. I am attracted to the team aspect of healthcare and want to work with people from all backgrounds. I graduated Carnegie Mellon with my degree in mechanical engineering last year and recently completed my premedical coursework at Columbia University through their Post Baccalaureate Program. Throughout this year at Columbia, I had the opportunity to shadow doctors in internal medicine, cardiology and sports medicine as well as volunteer at Mount Sinai Hospital. The experiences I gained shadowing and volunteering have fueled my passion for helping others and solidified my desire to work in the medical field. I will be applying to medical school next year and hope to pursue a career in sports medicine!

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