Rachel Hungerford is proof you don’t have to plan on majoring in science to enjoy the SJND biomedical program. The newly-minted UC San Diego graduate holds dual degrees in communication and business psychology.
“Being a part of the biomed program was an opportunity for me to stretch myself more in high school and really challenge and push myself,” she said. “I think that's the biggest takeaway I got. Without learning how to really fully commit myself to diving deep into something and committing to such an intense program, I probably would not have had as much confidence to get my double major.”
Thanks to the biomedical program, Rachel found that the science requirements at UC San Diego were a breeze and a review of all the material she had learned in high school. Though she didn’t end up majoring in a STEM field, the course of study allowed her to dive deep and take initiative in her education. It was also the hands-on learning experience that she wanted and enjoyed.
“I really like doing science experiments, hands-on learning,” she said. “That's how the biomedical program was presented — as a very hands-on learning experience.I love that; I think probably the biomedical program was the last time I really got to do that. College is great, and I had a lot of fun, but it's definitely a different type of learning. And learning that I don't prefer; I preferred how the biomedical program was taught.”
While Rachel said that she enjoyed her science classes, what kept her there was the learning method. It was, however, the subjects and skills like history, government, and public speaking that held her interest. The style of learning, however, didn’t. After realizing that she didn’t want a career path at a lab nor in academia and that a science degree couldn’t give her the career she envisioned, she chose communications and business psychology as her majors.
“I [learned that] it's hard to get a degree in science because unless you know specifically what you want to do, you're either going to work in a lab under people or you can go into academia,” Rachel recalled. “I didn't want to do either of those. I love talking and so I was like, ‘okay, I'll just do communications.’ Then from there more so when I was in college, I figured out communications isn't exactly what I want to do. However, I had already finished the degree so I [decided to] keep the degree, obviously. Business psychology is just so cool to me — I learned so much.”
Even for those who don’t profess a passion for science, Rachel encourages students to consider and even try the biomedical program.
“What do you have to lose? You're just going to be learning more. And guess what, if you take the first class and you don't like it, then you don't have to continue with it,” she said. “But, you could find something that you really, really love. It's just a great way to push yourself academically. If you really want to take the next step in your education, it shows colleges that you really care about taking the extra mile and your education. It's a lot of individual learning; you're going to prove you have a thirst for education, that you like learning, and then you're going to have these accredited courses on your transcript.”
As for Rachel, this fall she’ll continue with her hands-on learning approach as an associate account executive at Amazon Web Services. She’ll spend 18 months rotating among different departments, learning about each function before choosing a specialty. No matter where Rachel’s career takes her, she will always have the “thirst for education” that SJND’s biomedical program helped instill in her, and that will last a lifetime.
Learn more about our biomedical sciences program!