Saturday, January 10, 2009

making a statement.

experience, interests, and goals
I have spent many semesters in the research lab, working on everything from studying ribosomal stalling in E. coli (Dr. Buskirk, August 2008–January 2009) to genome mapping of C. quinoa (August 2005 to December 2005) and studying one of its natural products (January 2006 to April 2006, and summer 2007). I am interested in further research in so many fields; these fields include molecular medicine and drug design, study of type I collagen, microfluidics and cancer detection, and microfluidics in general. I took a graduate-level chromatography course, and microfluidic biological separations really interest me. Ultimately, I would like to teach at a university, community college, or junior college and perhaps do research in a field that I am familiar with and interested in.

enter to learn, go forth to serve
I have had many opportunities to serve at BYU. In fact, one of BYU’s unofficial mottos is “Enter to learn, go forth to serve”. One of the most unique volunteering opportunities I have had has to do with religion. This may seem apparent, as BYU is a highly religious university, but I grew up knowing only my Latter-day Saint neighbors, and never exploring other faith traditions. Luckily, I was able to take a course called American Christianity, in which learned about many different Christian traditions. I even had the opportunity to meet and dialogue with people of the Evangelical Christian faith tradition. I have learned so much from my Evangelical friends and neighbors, and now that I am the student director of BYU’s interfaith hosting program, I get to spend even more time working with and learning from my Evangelical friends. I help them plan visits to BYU with their students, where we gather to dialogue (with the intent of understanding) about our different faith traditions. Learning about people that are different than me and growing from those experiences is something I will continue throughout my whole life. Beside this singular experience, I have also had opportunities to mentor at-risk girls at a local middle school, participate in BYU’s homecoming festivities, mentor at-risk fifth and sixth graders at a local elementary school, volunteer as a host for New Student Orientation, and help with political grass-roots campaigning in Provo.

motivation & background
I have been fascinated with science from the moment that I started to connect the genetics lesson in my seventh-grade life sciences class to my younger brother's bone disorder. For his entire life, I had always been reminded by my parents to "be gentle with Greg" and to "not play rough" with him because his bones were fragile. Greg has a mild form osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), an autosomal dominant genetic disorder that causes dysfunctional type I collagen to be produced and therefore brittle bones. He has had over 25 breaks in his 14 years of life. Most of his breaks have been minor, but some have required multiple surgeries. I didn't really have a concept of the cause of his difference; until seventh-grade, that is. As a seventh grader, I wasn't aware of the fact that a study of the life sciences would lead me to extensive knowledge about the fundamental, biochemical causes of OI, but I was fascinated with the world of cells and the DNA that made my brother different. My interest in science continued to be fueled by many other things, including a summer biology class, summer research involving flagellar motors at the University of Utah (summer 2004), and a biotechnology course (that included lab work) my senior year of high school.

At one point in time, however, I wasn't sure biochemistry was for me. The biochemistry major required quantum mechanics and three semesters of physics and I did not have the math background for some of those classes. One day, I sat in Dr. Wood's office discussing this decision with him. I met Dr. Wood while working on a research project, and he had become one of my most trusted teachers and mentors. As I shared my reservations with him about committing to the biochemistry major, he said, "Kate, don't be a wuss." His frank honesty surprised me, but I knew that it was because he had the vision to see that not only was biochemistry what I was good at, but that it was what I was truly interested in and fascinated by.

After three years of college, I have realized (thanks to Dr. Wood) that my initial fascination with cells and DNA has matured into a passion for biochemistry and understanding on a molecular level. This passion was recently manifested as I completed a long day in the research lab. I worked all day on an experiment, applying many of the skills and much of knowledge I had gained. At the end of the day, I reflected with satisfaction on the hard work I had carefully carried out. This satisfaction was the same that I felt as I completed my quantum mechanics and physics courses; a feeling that reminded me of my love for biochemistry and the way it affects not only my life and the life of my younger brother, but the lives of millions of others. My drives to feel those same feelings of satisfaction and to understand processes on a molecular level are what inspire me to pursue a doctorate in chemistry or biochemistry. I know that it will be a lot of work, and that it won’t be necessarily easy. In fact, understanding chemistry isn’t what I would ever call “easy”, but the moments when lights turn on, connections form, and experiments work have been worth every late night, every scramble, every fear, every prayer, and every single tear.


Debbie said...

Yay! I can finally read your blog! Is this your personal statement that you are using on your applications for graduate school? I miss you and I hope that you are doing well.

Debbie said...

I ment to say I can finally comment on your blog. ooops!