Newly graduated pathobiology and veterinary science major Megan Pattoli is heading off to Yale University to begin a two-year patient-oriented research position, focusing on renal dysfunction in heart failure patients. She’s looking forward to a new experience to help prepare her for medical school. Viewing medicine as an intersection of science and service, Pattoli plans to specialize in pediatrics and hopes one day to volunteer with an organization such as Doctors without Borders, providing treatment to children without access to health care. Read more about Megan’s experiences as a UConn student.
What attracted you to UConn? When I visited UConn, I was really impressed with the enthusiasm for the school that was evident from the current students. It became clear that everyone on campus was full of Husky spirit, and I knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of myself. Additionally, I saw the opportunities for academic and professional development that existed within the STEM program at UConn as important tools that would guide me on the right path toward my future goals.
Why did you choose your particular major? I entered UConn solely as a molecular and cellular biology major in CLAS. After a discussion about my growing interests in global health and infectious disease with my advisor, I was led to many people in CAHNR’s pathobiology program. I was sold from day one! I think the pathobiology major is so unique because it allows you to narrow in on common biochemical concepts from a completely different perspective. You learn not just how the body works but also how it heals, and this is very important to me as an aspiring physician.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? My most memorable experience was becoming a resident assistant (RA) in the Honors First-year Community. I was able to connect with so many residents that soon became good friends throughout my three years in this position. Being able to mentor students at an important transitional period of their lives was so impactful to my time at UConn because I was able to realize that you are able to learn twice as much from others as you can teach them.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. Two additional experiences that hallmark my UConn career are the STEM Scholars Program through UConn Honors and my undergraduate research experience. When I entered freshman year as a STEM Scholar, I didn’t really understand much about this distinction. Four years later, I will never forget the friends I made at STEM Scholar events, the networking opportunities I was able to attend and especially the advisors and mentors with whom I made a five-year plan, ten times.
I also began my undergraduate research experience my freshman year in the behavioral neuroscience lab of Dr. Etan Markus, professor and associate department head of graduate studies in the Department of Psychological Sciences. Though I initially worked on a number of projects, I was able to take the lead on a new project in the lab after my sophomore year, which culminated into my Honors Thesis project toward graduation as an Honors Scholar.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? My biggest challenge of these past four years has been time management. From my very first involvement fair on Fairfield Way, I wanted to pursue so many different passions and interests of mine. As the years progressed, I was able to hone in on which of these were most important to me. Balancing academics, research, extracurricular activities and social excursions with friends definitely took time for me to adjust to, but I feel that I am graduating with a full toolbox on how to manage my time efficiently.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I graduated in May 2018, and I will begin a clinical research position at Yale University in early June. From there, I will enter medical school and pursue my lifelong aspiration of becoming a physician.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? An important mentor of mine at UConn once told me to remind myself every day of one thing I appreciate about myself, and then tell a different person why I appreciate them. It has since remained a reminder on my phone to do so at 1:45pm every day. This seems like a trivial task, but one thing I’ve learned in my various leadership positions is that being able to advocate for yourself will get you very far but being able to shine a light onto everyone you meet will take you anywhere. (I appreciate you, UConn!!!)