I came to St. Stephen’s as an international student from China during my sophomore year. For me, the school has been a place to explore my passions.
At St. Stephen’s, I discovered my love for music and biology. After quitting piano for three years, I picked it back up under the encouragement of my St. Stephen’s piano teacher. I ended up being a solo pianist, a two-time piano concerto soloist for the school orchestra, and a chamber pianist. I also joined the school choir and auditioned for the smaller ensemble, the Madrigals, with which I toured Austria, won a national competition in Washington, D.C., and attended the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.
I not only found what I love to do during my spare time — I also found what I hope to do as a career. After taking my unforgettable Biology I class, I realized that I love the excitement of investigating how my body works and how important this field is in pushing humanity forward and making a difference in the world. After deciding that cancer is a subfield of biology that I want to research, I designed and took an independent study course in cancer biology with my Advanced Biology II teacher, Dean Mohlman. The Senior Independent Project (SIP) is an opportunity for St. Stephen’s seniors to drop a few school classes to devote more time into exploring a field they are passionate about. For my SIP, I worked in Prof. Miller’s lab at The University of Texas at Austin for the last five weeks of my senior year.
Focused on cancer research, the lab aims to investigate the pathways and functions of DNA damage repair proteins, which can potentially be targeted by drugs for better chemotherapy and radiation therapy results. In the lab, I extracted the protein products of two genes, SMARCA2 and SMARCA4, through several long processes. I also learned to conduct many lab procedures, such as creating cell cultures and running the Western Blot test for protein analysis. Through talking with the lab members and going to multiple UT biology seminars, I have a fuller understanding of the daily activities of science researchers. Thanks to SIP, I gained valuable lab experience and have become certain about majoring in biology in college.
Looking back, St. Stephen’s has had a tremendous influence on who I am today by providing me with many opportunities to explore what I love to do. St. Stephen’s and Austin have become my second home, and the campus on “The Hill” will be a place I will miss dearly for the years to come.