Meet a Major

Michelle Annabi ’14

Extra-curricular activities: 

  • Phi Delta Epsilon (pre-med fraternity)
  • American Chemical Society
  • School of Science Representative for Student Government 
  • Sigma Xi Honor Society

Read about why Michelle chose her major [+]

 

Why did you choose your major? 

I chose my major because I believe it is amazing and interesting to learn how to explain biology by using chemistry. Biochemistry is the science that explains how lifeless molecules work together to make living organisms. The biochemistry curriculum at Manhattan College keeps me excited and eager to learn. Through my major, I’ve learned valuable skills that are important for everyone in the science field. The departments of Biochemistry and Chemistry also offer many different research opportunities. Throughout my college experience, I have been able to do hands-on research with two faculty members. 

What has been your favorite class? 

Luckily, I haven’t had a class that I didn’t enjoy! I have enjoyed Organic Chemistry (CHEM 319) and Biochemistry (CHEM 433) the most. I loved organic chemistry because I enjoyed solving the different problems and synthesizing different molecules. I love biochemistry because it focuses on the chemistry involved in biological systems.

Have you done any research projects?

I have worked with Dr. Kirchner and Dr. McCullagh on some of their research projects. During the spring semester of my sophomore year, I worked with Dr. Kirchner to determine the structure of the zeolite, SUZ-9. Then during my junior year, I worked with Dr. Kirchner on the single crystal structure determination of RIPS-13. Dr. Kirchner and I were able to determine the structure of RIPS-13, an indium phosphate material. We used various computer programs and model-building to get to our result.

During my junior year, I began working on Dr. McCullagh’s research. This research project is on the development of organic chemistry experiments for undergraduates. During this research, we develop practical methods for students to synthesize indigo, cassione and raspberry ketones. Through these research projects, I learned the importance of patience and persistence. During research, if things do not go right the first time around, you have to be able to find what went wrong and try new methods. These research projects have supplemented what I’ve learned in the classroom, allowed me to explore different fields of chemistry, and taught me more than I would have ever thought.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to get accepted into medical school and follow my dreams to become a doctor. 

What are the faculty like?

The faculty members in my department are amazing! They all have different personalities, and each of them has taught me important techniques and material. They all care about their students understanding the chemistry of their course, and they have office hours to help us. Not only do they help us with lessons in class but they also give guidance for our future. 

What’s your favorite thing about this major?

My favorite thing about being a biochemistry major is that I am able to study chemistry, biology and the chemistry of biology. Biochemistry is an important and growing field in the world today. It recognizes the fundamental nature of life at the molecular level. It is amazing, fun, and I wouldn’t trade my major for any other!

What’s the most difficult thing about this major?

The most difficult thing about my major is probably time management and study skills. My major is tedious and hard work, but if you are passionate about the subject, the journey through the courses will be very enjoyable and fulfilling. 

What advice would you give to new students trying to select a major?

It is very important to think about what you are interested in and who you want to become in 10 years. It is also important to think about what interests and excites you. College goes by fast, and it is important to decide on a major (especially if biochemistry) as soon as possible, so that you are able to graduate in four years. It is important to think about whether you wish to pursue graduate school or medical school (or any health professions). Many programs after college are very competitive and are changing their requirements, and so it is important to be aware of this. The biochemistry curriculum is rigorous but it also teaches students important skills needed in today’s world. 

 

stephanie

Stephanie Nava ’14

Extra-curricular activities: 

  • American Chemical Society
  • Phi Delta Epsilon (pre-med fraternity)
  • School of Science Representative for Student Government 
  • Soccer Leagues
  • New Rochelle Humane Society

Read about Stephanie’s hands-on internship  [+]

 

Have you done any internships?

Last summer, I participated in the Montefiore Health Opportunities Program. This internship was absolutely amazing because there were many different components within the program. We heard from speakers, including doctors, hospital personnel, nurses and psychologists, who spoke to the interns about their jobs and how they got there. We also participated in shadowing different doctors from a variety of fields. My favorite was shadowing the anesthesiologist — I had to put on a surgical gown and foot coverings, a cap covering all of my hair, and a mask and gloves before entering the room. The internship program concluded with a research project and presentation. My topic was about conjoined twins and how they are rare in the United States, but a more common occurrence in places like India and Latin America.

What has been your favorite class? 

My favorite class has been Biochemistry (CHEM 433). The professor is Dr. Rudnick, and she has showed me how all of the classes that I took before prepared me to understand the material. The class was awesome and Dr. Rudnick broke down all of the material in an easy manner. Her lectures were easy to follow as well. The textbook was actually fun to read, and it had little tidbits of relevant information related to some of our body functions or, for example, why our bodies break down materials with a certain pathway versus another. 

Why did you choose your major? 

In my senior year at New Rochelle High School, I sat down with my chemistry teacher, Ms. Raniolo, and asked her how on earth does a person choose what they are going to study in college. I was good at math and always enjoyed my science classes, especially chemistry and biology, so she told me that there was a major that combined both fields of study. I’ve definitely been happy with my decision! 

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m interested in going into the medical field as a doctor. After participating in the internship at Montefiore and also volunteering at a clinic at Einstein School of Medicine, I am still not 100 percent positive as to what I would like to specialize in. I am focused on having the most patient-to-doctor contact and involvement, as well as working in an area with under-represented populations. I am Mexican and Guatemalan and grew up learning English as my second language, so I want to use my bilingual abilities to work with a broader range of people.

What are the faculty like?

Everyone in the Biochemistry department is absolutely wonderful. I have formed a little family here at Manhattan College with everyone in Hayden. The dean was very helpful in opening up a reading room for us on the sixth floor of Hayden. We have a computer, printer, a couple of tables and even a microwave and refrigerator! The teachers are always willing to help and are flexible with the time that they can meet with us. The best thing is that there is always someone around to ask if you have a question. I have asked a lot of questions over these three years and have always gotten an answer.

What’s your favorite thing about this major?

My favorite thing about my major would have to be realizing how every class since high school has taught me something that I have used in my major. I remember thinking, how is this class going to apply to me in college?’ but really all of my science, math, English and even social studies classes have helped me in placing another piece to the puzzle of biochemistry. Everything, to some extent, I have been able to apply in my classes.

What’s the most difficult thing about this major?

The most difficult thing about my major would have to be time management with the amount of work that is assigned. I do love my major but it is A LOT of work and many times I find myself working late at night and all day through the weekend. The quality of work that the teachers require of everyone is high because they want us to be prepared in any work environment that we may encounter. It was hard for me at first to adjust to the workload at school on top of all my other responsibilities, but with the help and support of my mother and sister, I have made it this far.

What advice would you give to new students trying to select a major?

When trying to choose a major, the best thing to do is be really honest with yourself and see what area or subject really interested you in school or even outside of school. See what it is that you like to do and what you are good at doing. There are so many majors and fields now that even if you want to become a doctor, you can be an art history or a peace studies major. The important concept is that you are able to excel in the career path that you have chosen. Also, ask people who have gone to college about what made them choose their major and what they would change if they could go back. One more piece of advice would be to visit the school and actually walk through the science building if you are choosing a science major or art building if you are choosing an art major. Compare whether or not you could really see yourself sitting in the classroom learning the material.