My name is Caroline Lewis, and I am a recent alum from CAL, graduating in the Summer of 2013, majoring in Integrative Biology and minoring in Creative Writing. I’ve been a member of BSP since Spring 2009 and cannot express enough how much of an impact this program had on my time at this university. In short, BSP was my second home. Advisers set aside their own issues and gave me 100% of their attention, providing me with support and guiding me through the classic struggles of class scheduling. Tutors made subjects that were once as murky as a swamp in Louisiana into clear, understandable material. Study groups allowed me to meet study partners, and find people I knew in all my science classes (the first two rows in Pimentel usually consisted solely of BSPers). Through BSP, I was able to be part of a community, which is monumentally important when you’re at a competitive, university like CAL.
BSP has also granted me many experiences that I normally would not have had access to by posting weekly newsletters that announced upcoming opportunities in research and health, such as SMDEP at Duke, the CNR-BSP Mentored Research Internship, and independent research abroad in Moorea, French Polynesia. I was able to give back to this amazing program by tutoring Physics 8A for a year, which allowed me to meet and help fellow BSPers, as well as boost my confidence with public speaking and leadership.
I decided to major in Integrative Biology, because I really liked how much it encompassed — ecology, evolution, human medicine, genetics — rather than just the small cellular scale of other biological majors. And since I’ve always enjoyed writing (yup, even essays) I also chose to do a minor in Creative Writing. As a science major I think it’s really important to have an outlet of some kind where you can have some fun, and for me minoring in writing allowed me to take a break from the Krebs Cycle, and spermatogenesis and have a little fun (not that those subjects weren’t already enough fun).
So what is the story for me now? I am taking the slightly non-traditional path of taking one or two years off before applying to medical schools. Yes, I will step into the daunting “real world” and get a job while I study for the MCAT. But I felt this was the best decision for me. Being in BSP taught me that it’s okay to create your own path, and do things at your own pace, not to rush into a career. I want to spend this time off discovering what type of medicine I’d be the happiest doing, and the possibilities are endless—dentistry, osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, MD/Ph.D, etc.
Thank you Biology Scholars Program for helping me transition from an inexperienced high-schooler to a woman that is one step closer to making a positive difference in the world.