Neuroscience and biology double major MP grew up in Jackson, Mississippi feeling like a “misplaced carpetbagger” with a “wannabe-northern spirit”. She describes her college application process as anything but easy, as she applied to over 20 schools. After visiting the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as recommended by her guidance counselor, the school quickly skyrocketed to be one of her top choices. Besides being a northeastern school, MP saw UMass Amherst as a top choice for it is home to bountiful research opportunities as a Carnegie-1 accredited university with top notch professors, as well as hundreds of extracurricular activities and clubs to suit her interests.
MP loves being situated in the small town of Amherst, while also being able to experience a taste of a larger population in the Southwest Residential Area. After her tour across campus, MP submitted her deposit for enrollment in her room at the Hotel UMass and experienced her first real snow shower. She describes the moment of overlooking the glistening snow covered campus and submitting her deposit as “one of those fairytale, star-aligning type moments”.
Originally MP came to UMass as a psychology major on the neuroscience track. She had always been fascinated by the functions of the nervous system, and in high school she had set her mind on pursuing neuroscience. It wasn’t until taking her foundational courses for the College of Natural Sciences that she realized how much she loved biology and cellular function. After completing her freshman year, MP decided to switch to a biology major with a biochemistry and molecular biology minor to satisfy all her scientific interests. Her sophomore year she decided to pursue the dual degree program, allowing her to pursue her “childhood fascination with brain sciences, and newfound obsession with biology”. The dual degree program at UMass Amherst entails taking all requirements for both majors, and upon completion, allows her to graduate with two diplomas and two degrees. For MP, she saw this as a way to keep both her passions, even if it meant “spending way too many late nights at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library”.
As an out of state student “growing up in Mississippi and attending college in Massachusetts has many gaping differences, more than just the extreme change in weather”. MP recalls coming to campus not knowing a soul, but quickly adapted to UMass Amherst life; making tons of friends in her dorm, classes and clubs.
“There were definitely some adjustments at first (buggies are actually called shopping carts?) but the inviting spirit and bountiful opportunities at UMass Amherst quickly acclimated me to my new environment,” she says.
While MP does get the occasional twinge of homesickness, especially when it's two degrees outside and icy, the UMass Amherst community truly makes her feel at home.
She describes herself as a science fanatic, but holds a place in her heart for literature, history, and the arts. As part of general education requirements at UMass Amherst, students of all majors get a taste of different classes outside of their normal majors. MP has enjoyed a wide range of classes, from a literature course on dystopian and utopian fiction, to major classes such as cellular and molecular biology; as well as behavioral neuroscience.
Coming into college, MP recalls she “expected professors to be intimidating and hard to talk to, yet at UMass Amherst I have had an experience opposite to my expectations”. She even credits many of her professors as the reason she’s pursuing her majors and minor.
There are an abundance of job opportunities in her majors. One opportunity after graduation is going into scientific research. Another popular option is graduate school; typically medical school, which opens the doors for careers such as a doctor, psychiatrist, and many more.
MP, plans to apply to medical school upon graduation and hopes to pursue a career in the medical field as a doctor. She describes her dreams of becoming a doctor as “the epitome of what encompasses my passionate interests: the compassionate care of others, betterment of universal health, and pursuit of scientific knowledge and problem solving”.
Outside of her hectic academic life, MP is a tour guide here on campus and hopes that sharing her experience of her first visit to campus inspires others to attend the university. Next semester MP will also be working as a peer advisor for the psychology department, which entails helping students in the major figure out their schedules, as well as how to get involved in the major. One club MP is involved with here on campus is Best Buddies, which connects students to peers with intellectual and developmental disabilities for fun activities such as pumpkin picking and karaoke. Growing up her mom worked with individuals who have severe intellectual deficit disorder (IDD) and in turn, MP has developed an investment in the care and awareness of IDD and is passionate about the work Best Buddies is doing.