I chose a Kinesiology major because I enjoyed participating in sports, and was fascinated with human anatomy. Embarking on this journey I soon learned the College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS) is a very close-knit environment. When you’re in our building, you really feel like you’re known and that you have a place. The advisors are absolutely amazing.

One individual who was particularly helpful was April Carter, my academic liaison for the I-LEAP program (a student-run organization that encourages college success for first-generation students, students from underrepresented groups, and student athletes). April pushed me to challenge myself with pursuing all opportunities fearlessly, and to go beyond my boundaries. Now I have a go-getter mindset – I can do it. With time, I even became an I-LEAP mentor and the E-board President. I wanted to give back, mentoring freshmen, hosting workshops, and providing feedback to the college to continue to improve the program and student performance.

The AHS advisors really show you all of the unique and diverse paths that you can take with your major. For me, it was to combine my Kinesiology major with a minor in Chemistry. I was fascinated with all of the different drug mechanisms. I was drawn to the application and use of skills, and how I could solve one problem in a multitude of ways with the combination of my diverse skill set. I noticed a lot of overlap between my Chemistry and Kinesiology courses, like bioenergetics, and how it can be applied during my career to set me apart from my colleagues. Building bridges between these classes helped me better prepare for my future.

I had some really great experiences working with the Chemistry department as well. I was a Chemistry Teaching Assistant (TA) for the Merit Program for Emerging Scholars. That was meaningful to me because I was able to be a part of “paying it forward” – which is a tremendous component of the Illinois community. I tailored materials to students, helping them learn in ways that helped the knowledge truly stick. I also worked as an undergraduate research assistant on projects addressing childhood obesity. My lab mates were from diverse places, like Korea and Thailand. In addition to our research advances, we all became very good friends. We learned so much about different cultures and customs, as well as how to show respect and to communicate with others across cultures.

Since graduating, I participated in a medical mission trip to Lima, Peru. Illinois definitely encouraged me to pursue a global route and give back to underserved communities. This gave me a way to gain first-hand knowledge of public health initiatives and medical procedures outside of the U.S. Currently, I am working as an Emergency Room Medical Scribe at AMITA Health Adventist Hospital to gain more exposure to medical terminology and the work life of physicians. In my current role, I enjoy the opportunities to learn about our healthcare system and the uniqueness of each patient encounter.

Coming from Illinois, you really are prepared to succeed anywhere you go. I love how physicians react when I say I’m from Illinois. I feel respected, and like Illinois really prepared me for the next level… and that next level is that I’ve been accepted to medical school starting in Fall 2020! I am currently trying to decide between Iowa, Drexel, Tufts, and Penn State.

To current Illinois students, I’d like to say: Don’t limit yourself; put yourself out there. Even when you feel you’ve exhausted all options, don’t give up. Seek help from friends and faculty on campus – the resources are limitless. Push ahead and persevere. Even if you already figured out your major, why not take that art class or Spanish class? When will you have another chance to take a philosophy class at your leisure? This will add layers to your diversity, and these experiences will be less accessible after graduating. Now is the time.