Michelle Lee is an aspiring physician assistant (PA) majoring in allied health sciences, with a double minor in biology and Chinese. Hailing from Westport, Connecticut, she works at the chemistry building as a student administrative assistant and is a sorority sister at UConn, as well as a Difference Makers Scholarship recipient. Michelle plans to pursue graduate school after she graduates in May. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.
What attracted you to UConn? I came for the Husky-for-a-Day Program that they have for freshmen, and I fell in love with the campus. It was so beautiful and perfect for me. At that time in my life I didn’t know exactly what school I wanted to go to, but UConn made the most sense financially. The deciding factor was definitely the campus.
What is your major, and why did you choose it? I started out on the pre-med track with a bio major, then I switched to pre-pharmacy, and then I even thought about switching to accounting. When I talked to my ACES advisor, he told me to look into the allied health program, and when I discovered the physician assistant career path, I found out what I wanted to do. I chose my major because allied health encompasses so many healthcare careers and aspects, and I was so uncertain at the time. I decided to minor in Chinese because my parents are from Taiwan, and even though I was born in Connecticut, I really wanted to reconnect with my roots. As for biology, many of the prerequisite courses I need to take for PA school are the same as the courses required for a biology minor.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? I am a part of a sorority, Kappa Phi Lambda, and I think that joining that group was the most memorable part of my UConn career. I feel like I’ve grown during my time there. We have three pillars, which are sisterhood, community service and cultural diversity, and we hold community and cultural events.
Name other experiences that have enriched your studies. Volunteering in three different settings prepared me for the future. Last year, I started working at Holy Family Shelter in Willimantic and plan to continue through my senior year. That shelter, which houses women and children, takes me out of the UConn “bubble” and has really opened by eyes to the extent of homelessness in our community.
As an EMT in my hometown, I get experience working with patients. I help the paramedics with their job, such as transferring patients to the hospital.
Many of the patients at the free clinic, where I volunteer as a medical assistant, face challenges. For example, it is difficult for them to communicate in English, they are the working poor, and they don’t qualify for Medicaid. Talking to the nurses, physicians and physician assistants, who work there, helps me solidify my future career path.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? I had to come to terms with not always doing well in school. Even if you’re a hard worker, it’s easy to fall behind in college. For example, the anatomy and physiology course was really hard, and it was like a huge slap in the face for me. I had to go through a lot to realize that I am not going to get an A in every class and that grades don’t measure intelligence.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I plan to graduate in May 2017. Right now, I’m applying to physician assistant schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. It’s more stressful than college applications, since you’re not guaranteed to get in. If I don’t get into a program, I plan to work as an EMT and take year off before I apply again.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? College flew by so quickly for me. It’s scary how fast time is going, and I hope undergraduates understand that college is a time to discover yourself. UConn, in general, has so much to offer students.
It was definitely amazing for me to receive the Difference Makers Scholarship. Words cannot even begin to describe just how incredible it was. My school fees were completely covered, and I was extremely grateful.