Learning Beyond the Lines

Kirsten Drabek, a student at WashU, has done all things from athletic recruitment to being a biomedical engineer. Iris has the opportunity to learn about her experience.

What led you to apply to WashU?

“The main reasons I applied to WashU was their high emphasis of learning through research and athletic opportunity.  WashU is a research institution, meaning that there are many opportunities to work on groundbreaking initiatives in your field of choice. In high school, I never had opportunities to do hands-on work in what I was interested in. I was also recruited by the softball coach and had the chance to play.”

What were some priorities you had when picking colleges?

“My priorities when applying to college were academic environment, emphasis on student well-being, funding opportunities, and proximity to home. I wanted an academic environment that blends competition and teamwork. I knew that I did not want to go to a school where students tore each other down in order to “beat” their peers’ grades. WashU promotes students who thrive in working together, while maintaining competition with other institutions. My peers and I are not set up to tear each other down, but to work hard for success.

Secondly, I wanted to go to a school that had athletic space, exercise classes, mental health resources, and clubs that keeps students physically and mentally well.

Especially during this pandemic, I am also grateful that I prioritized scholarship funds. The WashU financial office is the reason I got to go to such a prestigious university.

Lastly, I knew that I wanted to be far enough from home that I could establish a new life, but also visit home on holidays. I am from Plainfield, IL which is about four and a half hours from WashU.”

How do you think the research and networking opportunities are in WashU?

It seems like every time I walk down a hallway or go to an office that I see a flyer for networking events or research opportunities. All of my peers that wanted to do research or pursue internships over the summer got them through the support of WashU. Through the biomedical engineering department, I have attended five networking events that have given me contacts for post-graduation.

Also, I have an interest in anthropology studies while being a biomedical engineering major. With sports, pre-med requirements, and clubs, I have chosen to not double major in anthropology. I talked to my advisor about my disappointment, and they connected me with an anthropology research professor who needed biomedical engineering students. The research allowed me to pursue both my passions.

Even as an athlete, they have specific networking events just for athletes because they know we may be too busy to attend other networking opportunities.

To you, what did you find was the best way to make new friends?

“I found that the best way to make new friends was to join clubs and activities that interested me. The people you meet at clubs already have one thing in common with you: the interest in that same activity! It provided a great common ground that can spark a friendship.”

If you could tell your high school self one thing about college what would it be?

“If I could tell my high school self one thing is to pursue your passions, and do not do things just to look good on a resume. I feel like a lot of students join activities or clubs in high school, just to look good on an application. In college, it is so important to change that mindset so you can take steps towards a career path. There is only so much time in the day so you must pick and chose to follow what fulfills you.

Have further questions for Kirsten? Ask them below and Iris will get you the specific answers you need.

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