I must admit that transitioning from 12 years of Catholic school to a state university made up of over 20,000 undergraduates was slightly intimidating. I chose to attend Virginia Tech after graduating from Mount de Sales in 2016 because I was ready for the challenge after a foundation in Catholic grade school.
Being a freshman in college brought many uncertainties, but I knew that I needed a community of authentic, faithful people in my life so I joined the Newman Community. While surrounding myself with like-minded Christian individuals has nourished me spiritually, the true test of my faith has been discussion with Protestant, Atheist, and Agnostic individuals throughout my time in college. Without my strong moral and educational foundation of the Catholic faith at Mount de Sales, I never would have felt confident to express my beliefs to others who were skeptical or have little exposure to Catholicism. Mount de Sales also helped develop my love for service, which is inherent to Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim, “that I may serve.” Many of my extracurricular activities involve service, including volunteering as a client advocate at the local pregnancy resource center, serving as president of Students for Life, and Eucharistic ministering to the sick and homebound, among other service events hosted by Virginia.
Additionally, the academic rigor and wonderful teachers at Mount de Sales undoubtedly prepared me for my academic career at Virginia Tech. I am studying Nanomedicine, a brand-new major, which involves participating in undergraduate research that relates to nanoscience. I joined a lab that studies natural compounds for treatment of diabetes, combining my passions for medicine and natural remedies. To incorporate nanoscience into my research, I came up with a research idea for using nano-polymers to enhance the delivery of these natural compounds within the body. A few months after crafting and developing the project, I applied to present my research idea at the Falling Walls Lab regional competition in New York, which involves presenting a research pitch in under three minutes. As the only undergraduate student among professors, PhD researchers, and graduate students, I surprised myself by placing first, earning the grand prize of presenting my pitch again in Berlin, Germany.
I departed to Berlin for the experience of a lifetime, where I was one of 100 finalists from over 50 countries and many levels of academia. I was humbled to be among such a prestigious group and was warmly welcomed by my competitors despite being the only undergraduate. After my pitch, I answered a question from Nobel Foundation Chairman of the Board Carl-Henrik Heldin, which was extremely honoring. Overall, this experience was unforgettable, and I look forward to reconnecting with many of the friends that I made from around the world on this trip.
I am forever grateful to the many Mount de Sales teachers, friends, and staff who helped shape who I am as a woman and inspired me to make a difference in the world.