As a child, I fervently saved my allowance each week to rent the latest movies on disease outbreaks and then spent the remainder of the weekend in our horse pasture pretending I was the director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). I begged my mom to take me to the public library in town, and as I grew my interest in medical thrillers and disease biographies developed. One evening, my family indulged me in a pop culture movie about an emergent virus pandemic that the scientists called MEV-1. The movie followed a young woman from the CDC tasked with preventing further infection, dispensing treatment, and ultimately trying to curb transmission of the disease. She risked life and job to create and distribute a vaccine based on an attenuated strain. I turned to my parents and exclaimed, “I am going to do that.” They smiled fondly at what they considered a temporal phase. But, I labored over tedious scholarship applications, consulted with faculty mentors, and amassed the intrepidity to attend the best university in the state. There, I worked tirelessly to seize every opportunity and challenge offered to me such as studying abroad, leadership positions, volunteering in the community, and being a part of student movements adding majors, advocating for Native Americans, and consulting with various student and faculty organizations to foster positive change on campus. Since taking a Pathogenic Microbiology and Infectious Diseases course where I learned the intricacies of pathogenicity and virulence, acquiring experience in bioinformatics and genomics, and performing research in both chemistry and microbiology contexts, I have cultivated the skills and passion necessary to one day become a pathologist and emergent disease specialist. I have checked each requirement or supplemental activity off of my plan to success, and now I stand at the threshold to the next step, the doctoral program in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
My academic background had prepared me extensively for the UW-Madison graduate program in Cellular and Molecular Pathology. Courses such as Genomics, Plagues and Peoples, Biochemistry, Advanced Synthesis of Organic Chemistry, and Molecular Biology have built a foundation of knowledge that I am currently expanding in graduate school. Studying abroad in both Arezzo, Italy and Tanzania, Africa exposed me to vastly different cultural models, as well as experience in adapting to pursuing education in foreign environments, two important skills in my career ambitions. Most importantly, independent research has cultivated my thought process as a scientist and introduced me to a variety of different laboratory skills in multiple disciplines.
Although my days of pretending to direct the CDC from my horse pasture have passed, I am prepared to seize the next step in my journey to become a pathologist and disease specialist. My education in pathology and microbiology will enable me to make a contribution to translational and application directed research in bacterial pathogenesis. With diverse research and life experiences accumulated to date, I am a holistic scholar who can provide a unique perspective, positive impact, and substantial contribution to any lab as well as the local community. As a child, my late grandfather coined me “Tiger Ann” due to my resilience and persistence in the face of adversity. I bring this same tenacity for the pursuit of life and scientific knowledge to every project and experiment.