W&L Outcomes: Esther Assenso ’22 Assenso, a neuroscience major, is heading to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where she will be a clinical research coordinator.
Hometown: Bronx, New York
Post-Grad Plans: Clinical Research Coordinator at Mt. Sinai Hospital
Areas of Study: Neuroscience, Film and Visual Culture
“Through my major, I have learned how to evaluate the skill set of a team and add to a group dynamic as necessary. This skill is especially important because as an upcoming clinical researcher and a future physician, I will work alongside team members to accomplish a common goal for a patient.”
Q: What are your post-grad plans?
I will be working as a clinical research coordinator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Q: Tell us about your internships and summer experiences as a W&L student. How did they shape you and your career plans?
The summer of my sophomore year I had an internship with AT&T’s Global Public Sector as an international and foreign affairs intern. This was an amazing opportunity to learn about the affairs of the business world. Upon completion of the internship, I realized I could not spend my career promoting the platform of a business to merely obtain revenue. I was more interested in the intricacies of the human body and how I could use my own knowledge to transform individuals’
I turned back to the sciences, and for the next two summers I did research at New York University in the Center for Neural Sciences. Here, I learned that I could pursue my aforementioned interests; however, after endless pipetting and gel electrophoresis, I learned I was missing the people aspect in the experience, and that deterred any interest in pursuing long-term research. Along with my shadowing experience with my mentor — an obstetrician and gynecologist — during the summer, I became confident in my future career plans to become a physician.
Q: How did Career and Professional Development (CPD) support you? Which resources did you find most helpful?
Career and Professional Development was vital in helping me discuss options for my gap years, reviewing cover letters for job applications and connecting me with alumni to discuss those options. Additionally, during my exploration stages at W&L, I was able to go on the Social and Economic Impact trip hosted by CPD, where I learned and was exposed to several organizations in social and economic affairs. The CPD office was especially helpful because as a student from a low-income household, I used CPD funding to purchase an MCAT test date and MCAT books. Therefore, the CPD office was integral in providing not only advice (special thanks to Director of Advising Molly Steele) but financial support for my future career aspirations.
Q: What did you study here and what are some skills or learnings you will take from your academic experience into the professional world?
At W&L, I studied neuroscience. The Neuroscience Program has a special focus on teamwork and communication skills. Through my major, I have learned how to evaluate the skill set of a team and add to a group dynamic as necessary. This skill is especially important because as an upcoming clinical researcher and a future physician, I will work alongside team members to accomplish a common goal for a patient.
Additionally, by presenting my scientific work to my peers and professors in class and conference settings, I have learned how to communicate complex science information in a digestible form.
Q: What career-related advice would you give next year’s graduating
Discuss your options, make an appointment with an advisor in CPD, and tell them your interests and future aspirations. They’ll be able to provide you with endless post-graduation options based on the information you share. Going into senior year, I did not know what clinical research was, nor did I know it was a possibility for me. However, Molly not only introduced me to clinical research for my future aspirations but connected me with alumni I could speak with about the profession. This occurred because I was open about my desire to pursue clinical experience after graduation. In light of the phrase “Closed mouths don’t get fed,” you don’t know what’s out there unless you take action and express your interests, especially to those people whose sole purpose is to help you.
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