Honors Former Student Sarah Maddux ’14 from Belton, TX is a doctoral student in immunology at the University of Pennsylvania. Sarah graduated with the Honors Fellows and Undergraduate Research Scholars distinctions and a bachelors degree in molecular & cell biology, and was heavily involved in the Honors Housing Community as an undergraduate. Outside of her research, classes, and the Honors community, Sarah also enjoyed writing and performing spoken word poetry.
Sarah reached out to invite current TAMU undergraduates to an online student panel and recruiting event for the University of Pennsylvania (see details below), and agreed to share an update on her post-baccalaureate success.
What is your current role?
I am a PhD Candidate in the Immunology Graduate Group at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the best immunology programs in the country. There are over 200 immunology labs at Penn and a very close-knit student and faculty community. If you’d like to learn more about our program, please register for our student panel on Wednesday, July 8: https://forms.gle/VHoPopZyT2hC4sye9
How did you go from your undergraduate experience at TAMU to where you are now?
I worked for three years as a lab manager at UT Health in San Antonio, where I published research on proteasome function and aging before moving on to graduate school. I now research the way the intestinal microbiota influences immune development and autoimmunity.
How did you end up at Texas A&M?
I’m a third generation Aggie and the 18th Aggie in my family. I considered other schools, but the pull of my family tradition and Aggie culture was irresistible. It’s a decision I do not regret in the least.
In what aspects of the Honors Program did you participate?
I lived in Lechner Hall as a freshman and as a sophomore advisor. I completed a senior research thesis and graduated with Honors Fellows and Undergraduate Research Scholar distinctions.
What are your favorite memories of your time at Texas A&M?
Most of my favorite memories at A&M revolve around my time in the Honors Housing Community, as a freshman, a Sophomore Advisor, and a visiting “grandparent.” I lived with other former Lechner kids for the rest of my time at A&M and I met many of my best friends there. I cherish my memories of late-night conversations in the foyers, extensive prank wars, pond hopping, Bonfire memorials, staying up all night watching Firefly, Shack weddings…the list goes on and on. There are honestly too many important memories to recount, but one favorite is how some of my friends pooled their money to buy me the whole Harry Potter series for Christmas because I’d never read them.
How did your experience shape your career path?
Now that I’m at an Ivy League university with a highly stressful academic environment, I’ve really come to value the emphasis A&M places on developing every aspect of students, not just their academic abilities. At A&M, I always felt valued for more than my grades and was encouraged to develop other skills, especially leadership. My experiences as a SA and leading other student organizations at A&M gave me the skills I now use to act as social chair for my graduate program and run our Diversity committee, which is dedicated to increasing recruitment and support of underrepresented groups in science.
I was also heavily involved in research at A&M, which strengthened my resolve to pursue a career in biomedical research and helped me determine my specialty in immunology.
What advice would you give to current students?
First, don’t stress too much about academics. Do your best but don’t neglect your mental health, social life, or other talents and skills. Your grades may help you get a job out of college but your leadership and people skills will help you excel at it.
Second, don’t put up with abusive work environments. I watched a lot of my friends struggle in toxic jobs right out of undergrad. They’ve all moved on to jobs where they thrive and feel valued, but it took a few years for some of them. Learn the lesson early that no job or graduate program is worth sacrificing your mental health. There are always better options out there.
Finally, go to therapy. There is no shame in taking care of your mind the same way you do your body and literally everyone needs it. I saw a therapist weekly the whole of my senior year of college and it was the best thing I could have done for myself.
We love to share news and success stories from our Honors Former Students! If you have something to share with our current, former, and prospective students and their families, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.