Name: Lea Kiefer
Major: Biochemistry with a minor in Mathematics
Languages Spoken: German and English
Hey! My name is Lea Kiefer and I used to be an international student at the University of San Diego up until recently (Dec 2014) when I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a math minor. I specifically picked USD for its great science department. The department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as the Biology department are very small and full of great professors. Undergraduate research is mandatory and is easily accessible to all students studying in the sciences. The professors are highly supportive when it comes to scientific work inside and outside the classroom. It is even possible that a professor will take you to a national conference to present your research or include you on a scientific article published in a prestigious magazine. The key, not just in the science department, is to get to know your professors early on. USD professors are generally willing to help you out and are great connections to have.
Besides the academic side of USD, I think it is important to get involved in student life on campus. A great organization to join is, of course, the International Student Organization (ISO). I joined ISO my freshmen year and got selected into the executive board at the end of that year. I have served on the board until I graduated and never regretted my time commitment to ISO. I found many of my best friends in ISO and it somewhat evolved into my family far away from home. Another great opportunity that USD bears is the Outdoor Adventures Club. They usually organize amazing camping and hiking trips to the various national parks close by. In addition, it is also important to join professional clubs and honors organizations to boost your resume.
Even though USD might not be one of the top schools in the country, it can definitely give you what most top schools cannot give an undergraduate student: lots of one-on-one time with your professors. So make use of that because it will give you an advantage over many other skilled applicants when you go on to graduate school or into the working field. If you decide to go to graduate school you should take the generalized tests necessary (GRE, GMAT) early on in the summer before your senior year. This will allow you enough time to find schools, apply and send the necessary documents. It is important to keep checking in with your faculty advisor while in the application process, since he or she will have a tremendous influence on your application through the letter of recommendation.
Overall, it is never too early to start thinking about future plans and the earlier you start the better prepared you are for what is about to come.
– Lea Kiefer