Biochemistry: Student Testimonials

Aryana Singh

Majors: Biochemistry and Human Biology

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
These programs took the topics that I found most interesting in the organization of biological structures and systems, including Organic Reaction and Cellular Processes. Furthermore, as these two majors are fairly similar in their course requirements, I was able to take several electives in order to broaden my knowledge.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 

Through my program, I was able to gain a lot of practical experience. I really enjoyed this aspect of my studies as it allowed me to gain a lot of hands on experience to exercise what would otherwise be understood through reading and theory study. The counter side to having practical experience would be having several hours of class in a single week, which really requires you to appropriately manage your time to stay on top of both the lecture component and the practical component of a course.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
First, in order to determine whether this is the right program for you, do not hesitate to contact a program adviser. They will be able to help you define your strengths and weaknesses; as well as, inform you of what you should expect as you progress through your program!
 
Second, as the courses that I have taken for my program involve I have needed to write several Formal Reports. I found the UTSC Library Resources and Databases extremely helpful when constructing Formal Lab Reports. Try to visit the Liaison Librarian for your program to understand what resources can help you with your assignments!
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation?
 
I strongly believe that there is so much more that I can gain from my education before entering the work force. Therefore, I would like to continue my post-secondary education through Graduate Studies. It is my hopes to pursue a degree related to my undergraduate studies, but that also allows me to adopt new skills and knowledge of other disciplines of science!
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
Any journey has its highs and lows, bumps and curve-balls. I would not say that my academic journey was as smooth as it could have been, but I managed to rustle through it! In my first year, I did not have a set goal as to what I wanted to study during my time as an undergraduate student. It was my hope that by taking introductory courses and my second year courses in the sciences that I would be able to build a solid foundation for my interests to understand where I could see myself in the future. As it turns out, my interests were much broader than I anticipated. By the end of my first year, I knew that I wanted to take more electives to have a better perspective of the opportunities at my disposal and chose a program that allowed me to explore my options. By my third year, I was able to take courses that gave me a more in-depth understanding of my areas of interest.

Arika Hisatsune

Majors: Environmental science and Biochemistry
Minor: Biology

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
Since I received an acceptance letter, I always wanted to go for biochemistry specialist. That was my one and only goal. However, after attending my first year of university here, my vision changed. I choose these programs because I wanted to learn more of environmental science after taking first year courses and not only biochemistry. Biochemistry program offers me a deep understanding and application of expensive techniques in class and in labs that will allow me to stand out the most amongst other applicants for the future graduate studies. In labs, TAs are more helpful and you get to hear about their study or research as well, which gives me an idea of what I should expect in my further study. Also, in the environmental science program, professors will tell you about their research studies as well and are really motivated that you get to learn more than what is written on the textbook. Hearing about professionals' research  daily, you will not only get to acquire extra knowledge that other students probably won't have, but also, you sometime get to see the actual instrument and learn about them in depth, which you will need to know for your graduate studies. These two major programs are going to offer me a deep understanding of ‘life' around myself and I knew these programs would make me an overall well rounded applicant for graduate school, especially with multidisciplinary courses required for those majors.

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

Being a part of this program has taught me how to overcome my weaknesses and apply critical-thinking skills to actual workplace challenges or to real life situations. The highlights of these programs are that you will get to pick classes that you are most interested in as there will be a lot of options offered for you to pick from, to complete the degree. Also, as the level of the course proceeds, you get to learn, for example water, in more depth taught by professors that specialize in that field so you get to learn things others won't know.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

- Visit the office hours of your professors or anyone who you know works in your program area. They will tell you of their experiences and their research in depth. Sometimes they allow you to assist in some of their research projects as well. Making connection with professors could allow you to have more potential to work in a department or company and gain valuable work experience. Those experiences could make you outstanding amongst others applying to the same graduate study programs and also, you will have a clearer vision on what you will be working on if you are really going to pursue that field.
 - Put effort in studying. People might laugh at you for studying all the time, or call you a nerd, but don't mind them. If you have friends in other schools, they might make you feel a little depressed that you have to work much harder than they do to get a good grade since our school requires you to work hard and put in much effort into everything. However, you will gain more experience and knowledge out of those efforts which is a good thing! Keep believing in yourself and never give up and keep putting the effort into studying. Your time will come when it is right.
- Get involved with school and meet new people. Meeting people will allow you to have a better connection but also, learn more perspectives. Perspective in any field are important and it won't hurt to learn and know about more perspectives. Getting involved will allow you to have a better resume as well and I use meeting times as my break from studying. Take advantage of the many resources on campus. There are many opportunities you could jump onto at any time!
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)

The degree I earn will allow me to get involved in many fields in environmental science and also biochemistry, but my goal is to be a researcher in either of these fields. The degree will allow me to enrol into a grad school that offers a high education, which will allow me to be a better researcher or technician. Being a great researcher or technician will allow you to make a positive change to yourself but also to the greater society.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
First year was a rough year, and I'm not going to lie about it. I am sure that a lot of you had the same experience as I did and are scared of the next year or so, but do not worry, your upper years will be better. First year for me was really rough, I am an international student and being away from home by myself was tough but also, the school workload was way more than I expected. Chemistry and biology were not that bad, however, physics was really terrible such that I had to study everyday every minute yet my result did not come out as I wanted. I had friends who never studied but got a perfect mark on midterm or final, and I envied them. However, I did not have any problems with finding or making friends because I went out for residence events and was a member of intramural soccer team on campus. It was not easy for me to go tryout on the first day by myself, but I am glad that I did it because I made a lot of friends there and upper years on my team helped me get through a rough year. These activities helped me through the transition from high school to university. In second year, I learnt what I learnt in first year in more depth. I also got involved with school, went to office hours and I had to manage my time wisely and sometimes, I felt a little overwhelmed, but I made a lot of connections here that helped. I adapted my study habit from first year enough that in second year, I was on my butt all day and studying for my classes. My grades were great, and I regained confidence in myself. I am currently in my third year and I now have a great connections with my professors from last year that I go to their office hours, even though they are not currently my professors, to talk about topics that were brought up in my class or something that pops up in my head. It has not been a smooth nice path, but it definitely grew me as a person and I have learned lessons that I can apply to in the future.

Fat Malazogu

Majors: Biochemistry (Co-op) & Chemistry

 

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

In my first year of university I became really interested in how the human body works at the molecular and biochemical level. I wanted to gain a greater understanding how we are affected by different compounds, microbiota and the natural environment that surrounds us. The availability of co-op for Biochemistry, which gives you the opportunity to gain work related/research experience, also attracted me to the program. In addition, you can stand out of the crowd by combining the Biochemistry program with a wide range of major or minor programs

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

There is quite a bit of variety with the Biochemisty program at UTSC. There are numerous courses that you can take that will familiarize you with the theory in biochemistry and its application. I especially enjoyed the rigorous lab courses where we applied our knowledge from lecture. My 1st and 2nd year consisted of basic life science courses where we covered general biology, chemistry, and calculus. However, after my 2nd year I was able to enroll in a lot of courses with interesting lab components. Some examples include Analytical Chemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory, and Microbiology.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 

1- Think about what type of profession you want to have when you graduate. There are numerous resources on the web, you can talk to a family member or acquaintance etc. to give you a better idea what it's like working in that field. Would Biochemistry be a good fit to help you get there?
 
2- Look at the "UTSC Calendar" for upper year courses you might be interested in. That may help you decide if this program is right for you.
 
3- Having a good Life/Work/School balance is really important. Don't pass up on opportunities, however don't take up more than you can handle.

What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)

I enrolled in the Biochemistry major because I believe it provides a lot of flexibility of what you can do with it after graduation. I will possibly go into the medical field, pharmacy, or a graduate school program related to those fields.

What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?

My 1st and 2nd years of study mostly consisted of general chemistry, biology, and math courses. In second year my friends prompted me to join the Biology Student Association (BioSA), there I became a 2nd year representative. Student organizations are a great way to develop your leadership and soft skills while getting the chance to give back to the community. Generally, in the second year and onwards I found there is a lot more freedom with respect to course selection. I enrolled in several chemistry and biology courses with lab components and a couple ecology and evolutionary biology courses. I also started to volunteer in an ecology lab (The Cadotte Lab) and I have been fortunate enough to facilitate ecology FSGs (Facilitated Study Group). Third year has also been very eventful for me. I had the privilege of utilizing the skills gained in my classes to attain a co-op placement in a laboratory, where I am now. I hope to bring back the knowledge/skills and apply it in my studies.