Curious about how to blend your STEM interests, like biotechnology and business? We have personal insights just for you, from our very own student Ria J.! In fact, Ria is not only working on cutting-edge biotech research, but working on plans to strike out on her own. Let’s see what she has to say about succeeding in high school and beyond!
This interview is Part 3 in our Empowering Activities series. To read more, check out the rest of the series right here! We hope that celebrating our stellar Empowerly students will inspire other high schoolers to reach for the stars.
Ria J. is from the Bay Area and is currently a sophomore at UCLA studying Human Biology and Society. She has always been passionate about exploring the bridge between biology and society, and her current focus is in biotechnology and entrepreneurship. She also enjoys writing and research opportunities around this topic. In her free time, Ria loves to volunteer with youth and spend time with her friends exploring LA.
Ria’s passion for her unique undergraduate study has led her to blend biotech and business in her college career. We are so excited to see her pursue her dreams at UCLA. Let’s hear from her about her journey.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! We are so excited to learn more about you and your amazing work. So…
Empowerly: Which activity(s) do you participate in that makes you feel most empowered, and why?
Ria: I am currently part of work on a paper exploring business models around the Open Insulin Foundation, a project working to make insulin cheaper and more accessible to all type 1 diabetes patients.
Working on this project has helped me explore my passion for the intersection between entrepreneurship and biotechnology, and I feel empowered to make my own path in this field both through this research and future opportunities. I am also making a contribution to the scientific community through my analysis on this paper and other research and writing, and I hope to do similar work in the future.
E: How long have you been doing these activities?
R: I have been working on this paper for about a month since the end of summer, but I have been working with Open Insulin Foundation for the entire summer as a business intern.
E: How did you first discover your passion(s), and when was that?
R: I first discovered my passions through a Science, Technology, and Society course I took in high school at Stanford University. After doing a research project on 3D bioprinting and continuing that throughout my junior year of high school, I was able to really explore the importance of the bridge between science and societal implications. I focused this interest on biotechnology and the ethics behind 3D bioprinting in this specific project, and expanded this to entrepreneurship and biotechnology after starting college.
E: Have you faced any memorable turning points or obstacles along your journey?
R: I have always had strong interests in both biology and healthcare and business and entrepreneurship. I spent the start of my high school career believing I would have to choose one or the other to pursue; but after seeing how both can be intertwined in several ways, I was able to explore my passion for both through biotechnology. Reaching college and joining Bruin Medical Entrepreneurs helped me network with several students and professionals with the same passion as me and helped me recognize the career path I wanted to embark on.
E: What are your plans for the future (in high school, college, or beyond)?
R: I plan to continue my education as a Human Biology and Society major and potentially minor in entrepreneurship. I hope to engage in research in related areas as well as work with Bruin Medical Entrepreneurs and other career opportunities throughout my college career. I hope to work in business in the biotechnology field in the future and am excited to expand my knowledge through different college experiences. Apart from career advancement, I plan to continue volunteering with Los Angeles youth and share my passion for science with them.
E: How has Empowerly helped you move your passions/activities forward?
R: Empowerly provided me with the tools and resources I needed to attend UCLA, a college that is the best fit for me in so many aspects. I am able to learn so much everyday and have found so many opportunities to explore my interests and passions. I truly cannot see myself at another institution and am grateful to Empowerly for helping me be here.
We at Empowerly are constantly impressed by the amazing work of students in our community. If you are curious to learn more about activities that will empower your students, we are here! Reach out to learn more about our program and how we can help. Book a free consultation below to receive a customized recommendation for your college application plan.