Hey there! I’m Catherine, a member of the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) class of 2019/2023. I’ll writing for Blogside Manner this year, posting updates about the Program, the grueling application process, my life as a Brown student, and perspectives on being a STEM student at Brown. Hopefully, I can give some insight into the Brown experience, and see some prospective students on campus in the coming years!
There are many things I love about the Bold, Beautiful, Beasts of Brown including the fact that they are all SUPAH SMAHT. One of those athletic smarties is Lilly Dominguez, a senior in PLME who identifies as Mexican woman from El Paso, Texas (She’s also a PLME advisor or meiklejohn, but sadly, she’s not mine).
What are you concentrating in?
I am getting a degree in biology, so an ScB with a focus on cellular molecular biology.
Why did you choose your concentration rather than other options?
So originally, I came in wanting to do chemistry. Then, I took Chem 33 (General Chemistry 2), and my idea of chemistry was completely torn down. Sophomore year, I jumped between so many different ideas. At one point I considered economics because I like it in high school. I tried that out, didn’t like it. I even considered anthropology, but it didn’t really call to me. In the end, they weren’t as appealing as I was hoping. And then I kept taking biology courses because, you know, they were required for PLME. I took Immunology, I took Physiology, and I really liked it. I just like getting into the details of the sciences and the biology, knowing how everything comes together. And I just kept taking bios, now I’m a bio concentrator.
What has been your experience in STEM courses at Brown?
For the most part, positive because the professors are really great, and I like the material itself. But, you know, when you’re in high school or younger, you don’t really think that there are issues in terms of representation for women or minorities. But, once you get here [Brown] and you go into a class, you see that everyone around you is either white or male, it’s kind of hard to feel like you’re gonna succeed. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t like what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s a little harder to have confidence because you feel like you’re not in the population that should be there.
What do you think could have improved your experience as a science/STEM student?
I think it’s more of a “me” issue. I should have been more aware or services that were available, like WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering), I didn’t know about that till junior year. I didn’t take advantage of [resources] earlier, so I didn’t have the support that I needed. Especially with Chem 33, I didn’t ask for help until it was too late, and that’s when I had to take Chem 33 T (the tutorial of Gen Chem 2) which was fine. I just wish that I had known about these things before I was turned off from chemistry. Maybe if I had asked for help earlier, I would be a chemistry concentrator right now.
What challenges do you think Women, especially Women of Color, face in STEM?
So I mentioned that a little bit earlier- just feeling like you’re not represented in your own field, so you doubt whether or not you really belong there. I think a lot of it has to do with confidence as well as not having access to resources or just being too scared to go ask-that’s definitely a hurdle.
What do you think should be done for Women and Women of Color in STEM?
There has been a lot of students who try to start organizations specifically for minorities or women. But I feel like there should be more push from department heads or deans cause you need that power source to start enacting different programs. There has to be more of a push from the College and not just the students.
How has PLME influenced your time at Brown?
I think it gave me time to grow as a person and actually expand on my interests and what I care about instead of worrying about trying to be this perfect pre-med student with the focus of solely getting into med school. I was able to develop my character, and I think that has really shaped my Brown experience as a whole. My priorities weren’t that same as a normal pre-med student.
What advice would you give to yourself first year?
Stop being so afraid and just do what you need to do. Don’t worry about what other people might think. And, it’s not that you’re not good enough, i[Brown] is just a completely new environment; it’s a learning experience and you have just as much right as anybody else to be here despite your gender or ethnicity or background.
PSA from Lilly: On occasion the Writing Center Writing Center will have free Pizza. And, it’s the really good one; It’s awesome.
*This interview has been edited for clarity and cohesiveness, content has not been changed.