Ava Bakhtyari
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My name is Ava Bakhtyari and I am a junior here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I declared my major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology based on my love of science and desire to focus on a specific concentration. Ever since my freshman year, the Biochemistry Department has provided all of the support and resources that I could ever ask for. I was offered one of my first opportunities before I even stepped foot on campus, as I was invited to be a part of the First Year Research Experience. This program placed me into a research lab of preference at the start of my freshman year. Ever since then, I have been privileged to remain a part of Professor Jeffrey Blanchard’s lab.

The Biochemistry Department here at UMass is comprised of amazing faculty members and challenging courses that have truly helped provide a solid foundation for me in some of my upper level science classes. My background in biochemistry has become especially useful towards my involvement in the Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program. iCons is a unique program offered by the College of Natural Sciences that enhances student collaboration and problem solving. I first became involved in iCons during the spring semester of my freshman year. The four-year track has provided invaluable experiences that have let me grow as both an individual and scholar. Much of my success in iCons is due to the dedicated professors and in-depth courses that the biochemistry department offers.

In addition to academics and research, I like to invest my time partaking in various extracurricular activities. The Amherst area provides several opportunities to become involved in the community. I like to spend my time serving local soup kitchens, nursing homes, and mentoring younger children. UMass has provided some amazing experiences for me thus far that have helped me get closer to my future goal of becoming a physician. My greatest piece of advice is to find balance in all that you do and enjoy the journey.