Friday, February 12, 2016

#ILookLikeAnEngineer: Jessica Lam

As president of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) (and barista!, our next featured student is making an impact at UC San Diego.

Name: Jessica Lam
Major: Bioengineering: Biotechnology
Estimated graduation date: June 2016

Why did you choose engineering at UC San Diego?
Bioengineering at UC San Diego is a nationally top ranked program. I’m lucky to be here honestly, surrounded by others who are as passionate as me about our major. I think the success and accomplishments that have come from fellow engineering students here is contagious – they motivate you to want to be a better student and person. Also, I chose UC San Diego because we have the most beautiful city and beaches!

What are your career goals?
I’d like to work in industry for a few years to get some work experience and see what else is out there. I would like to go back to school to get my Masters, and then go from there.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
I’ve always been kind of stuck on the phrase, “Just breathe”. Sure, it’s a bit cliché. But I’ve grown to find that college and life in general can get overwhelming at times. It’s easy to lose yourself in everything that you do, and in the people that surround you. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, relax, and realize that there’s more to this lifetime than whatever is right in front of you.

What are three things that are unique about you?
1) I’m a barista! I work at the Cups Coffee cart right outside the Powell Focht Bioengineering Hall. It doesn’t really help with my caffeine addiction though…

2) I love live music and going to concerts. It’s a whole different experience than just listening through your headphones everyday.

3) I'm a sucker for the beaches here in San Diego. I love just driving up and down the coast, looking for hidden beaches or places to explore.

What does this campaign mean to you?
I remember when back in high school when I was first accepted to UC San Diego’s Bioengineering program, all of my friends just asked me: “So… what does a bioengineer do?” At the time, I wasn’t able to give them a full flushed answer; I had no idea what I even wanted to do. How was I supposed to explain what it means to be a bioengineer? I knew I liked math and science, and I was pretty good at both subjects, but that was kind of it at the moment. I was a straight A student, and I felt that I was almost pressured to pursue a major that was prestigious. But because of that, I almost felt a bit ashamed almost that I was going to hopefully be an engineer one day and I couldn’t express at the time what it means to me today.

To this day, I still struggle sometimes fully being able to encompass what it means to be an engineer. But when I really think about it, I’m proud to be one. Engineers are solving the problems of the future, helping people through the advancements of technology, and they’re just like anyone else. To me, this campaign is really trying to highlight the misconceptions that people may have about engineering. A lot of times, when people hear that I’m an engineering major, they make comments like “Wow, you must be really smart then” or something like “That’s crazy, I could never do that”. I’ve found that anyone who loves the field they work in enough can make it. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, what you do. As long as you enjoy it and it means something, then I think that’s enough. With that being said, there’s no one stereotype for an engineer, or any other major/career for that matter.

So if I could now answer the questions that my friends in high school asked me, I will tell them this: It doesn’t matter what a bioengineer does, or what they can do. It doesn’t even matter if I were any other major. I don’t need to follow any stereotype that an engineer has to be a certain type of person. What matters is that I’m pursuing something that I am truly passionate about, and I hope I can radiate that energy to other students and motivate them enough to continue doing what they love doing.

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