By Macy Moore
Honors former student Elizabeth Sawicki (née Joachim) ’10 is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She recently shared her reflection on the time she spent at Texas A&M and how her experience affected her in the long run.
Sawicki first heard about Texas A&M at her high school career fair, and she ultimately chose the university for its scholarship opportunities and programs. An Honors student, she started off studying biomedical engineering and participated in the Space Engineering Institute and USRG Summer Program, and a yearlong exchange program to Hong Kong. Sawicki has fond memories at Texas A&M such as her freshman year in Lechner Hall and attending her very first football game at Kyle Field.
“I met my best friends while at A&M,” Sawicki says. “I loved how even on a campus with tens of thousands of students I could walk down a random street and run into people I knew. I really liked the small feel of such a large school.”
When she first enrolled at Texas A&M, Sawicki planned on becoming a pharmacist. Since she enjoyed math and science, she studied engineering to do something a little different before pharmacy school. After a few years, she decided to change her major to University Studies – Honors.
“It turned out that I loved doing experiments in the lab, hated chemistry, and would much rather study brains and diseases than anything else,” Sawicki says. “I didn’t decide to go to medical school and change my major until junior year. Although it was difficult being one of the first two people with this new major, mainly because no one knew what it was, I got to do what worked best for me and still graduated on time. If I had stuck with my original major and never explored other options, I would have missed out on my true passion.”
When it comes to providing advice to current and future students, she says that thinking outside the box is key.
“Yes, it’s a little weird when people ask ‘What was your major?’ and I have to give a 2 minute explanation of how I designed my own thing, but I’m pretty sure that little bit of awkwardness is totally worth it.”
Though it was important to her to finish school in four years when she first began college, Sawicki is now on a 10-year plan to receive her master’s and doctoral degrees.
“Don’t worry if doing something different will take longer, or if you need a gap year, or even three, before you figure out what you want to do,” Sawicki says. “It sounds silly, but honestly, there’s no rush.”
Sawicki is first author on a paper recently published in Drug Delivery and Translational Research. You can read more about the article and the researchers Sawicki is working with at https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/204449.
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