Prospective Students

Jiazhen Li

  • Graduation Year: 2018

Jiazhen Li

Major: Biological Sciences


How did you decide on your major?

I made my decision to major in Biological Sciences after I discovered my enthusiasm in learning science. In college, I was initially interested in accounting and I studied at Rutgers Business School for the first two years. While I was taking General Chemistry to complete an elective, I was fascinated with it. Learning about the topics energized me. I was especially interested in reading about how its knowledge is applied in the field of biology and medicine. After serious considerations, I determined to pursue science. During the summer after my second year, I took the General Biology series, which introduced me to not only the human bodies, but also plants, animals, evolution, etc. I was amazed by the width and abundance of knowledge in Biology. I was sure that I desired to learn more about them. Therefore, at the beginning of my third year, I transferred to SEBS and switched my major to Biological Sciences.

What is it about your chosen field (and the department) that appeals to you?

I am impressed by how well the department serves its students. The advisors are very kind and helpful. They were always there for me when I needed advice about choosing classes and careers, even during winter and summer breaks. No appointments are needed. In addition, the major provides hundreds of different electives for students with various interests. No matter which subfield of Biology you are attracted to, the department can help you tailor classes to fit your interest. I personally chose to take many courses introducing me to the amazing human body, such as endocrinology and immunology, but I also had fun studying other classes such as animal behaviors.

Do you have favorite class/professor within your major?

My favorite class within my major is Immunology. I was excited to study how much our immune cells could do to defend us from foreign invaders and cancer cells. I was especially fascinated with immunotherapies in cancer treatment. Through an opportunity in a research writing course, I embarked upon a research paper investigating an immunotherapy, called PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor. I also had a chance to present my paper at a research writing conference. It was exciting to share my passion with the audience.

What are your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?

During the last semester of my undergraduate studies, I took courses in humanities and social sciences. I enjoyed learning them because through reading books and writing argumentative essays, I had opportunities to improve my English. As a new immigrant who came to the US from China at the age 19, I sometimes didn’t feel confident enough with my language skills. After challenging myself with comparative literature and political science, I discovered that it is exciting to speak up and share my thoughts with professors and classmates. In addition, by learning humanities, I have more topics to talk about with families and friends during gatherings.

What are your other Rutgers activities?

During my third and fourth year, I had served as a Teaching Intern for General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. I helped my students improve their learnings by having weekly office hours and exam review sessions. I also worked as a research assistant at the Department of Genetics. Our project team was attempting to discover the genetic basis of alcoholism. I was also an executive board member of AED, a premedical honors society affiliated with the Health Professions Office. I was responsible for managing financial account and helping to organize events for our members.

What are your plans following graduation?

I am accepted to medical school and I am excited to start this fall!

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