Student Profile

Laura S. recipient of the Class of 79 Odyssey Scholarship

Laura S. ’20

Hometown: Elmhurst, IL

“I feel extraordinarily privileged to attend a university that constantly challenges my growth as an individual and scholar.”

How did your summer experiences clarify your career or academic interests (for example, a Metcalf internship or research opportunity)?
At the beginning of my internship I was undecided as to whether I wanted to commit to a career in scientific research or pursue a career in the health professions. My summer internship was extremely valuable because it showed me exactly what the life of a scientist entails and requires. At the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, I realized that bench lab scientific research is slow moving and requires persistence, because 95 percent of the time you will not be able to obtain desired results. However, unlike many other jobs, you will have the freedom to conduct research that you are interested in and passionate about. Ultimately, I have drawn two conclusions from my internship experience. First, I am most interested in developmental biology and cancer biology and would like to find a lab that conducts research in either field. Second, I would like to have substantial research experience in the health professions because I have realized the importance of immersing yourself in a field of interest so that you understand exactly what that profession entails. At this point in time, I am strongly interested in pursuing medicine and hope to secure a clinical research internship position for the summer of 2018.

Please describe how you are choosing your course of study. Have there been clarifying moments in your Core classes or particularly inspiring professors who are helping identify your academic passions?
I came into college knowing that I wanted to major in biology and classes in my major have only served to reaffirm this desire. I have enjoyed each of my science classes immensely and am currently trying to decide on a biology specialization. I am most interested in cancer biology and global health sciences.

What activities are you involved with outside the classroom?
At times the academic rigor at UChicago can be both stressful and daunting. It is during those times that I appreciate being a member of the University Ballet Company. Ballet is in many ways therapeutic, providing the opportunity to exercise and engage in artistry. I have also forged some of my closest friendships with other members of the UBallet community. In addition, I spend my time volunteering in the children’s playroom at the University of Chicago Medical Center and working as a research assistant to a primary care doctor. Finally, I serve on the volunteer committee of the MEDLIFE chapter at UChicago, whose mission is to build a worldwide movement empowering the poor in their fight for equal access to health care, education, and a safe home.

If you could speak directly to the person whose gift supported your scholarship, what would you say?
First and foremost, I would like to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for your support of my Odyssey scholarship, without which I would not have been able to attend the University of Chicago. I am a second-year studying biology in hopes of pursuing a career in medicine as a pediatrician. I feel extraordinarily privileged to attend a university that constantly challenges my growth as an individual and scholar. Thus far, my time at UChicago has proven to be incredible: I have forged friendships with students from around the globe and received instruction from professors whose passion for their respective area of study is truly inspiring. In my fifth quarter at UChicago, I look forward to performing in UBallet’s production of Cinderella, exploring new classes, and engaging in community service. Thank you for supporting my education!