Meet an eMentor: Jessica Li

By May 11, 2017Profiles

IMG_2899What are you studying, and what do you like about it? I’m currently studying a Bachelor in Science, majoring in Molecular Biology, at La Trobe University, Bendigo. The course allows us to choose electives from other faculties and has allowed me to explore the areas of anatomy, pathology and physiology and allowed me to find the links and how it is relevant to what I am learning in my core subjects in a practical view.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? I became a mentor because I wanted to inspire young students that there is so much more to STEM then what is in the class room. I feel like I was greatly inspired by my biology teacher in high school who continually fueled my curiosity and I want to return that to upcoming students.

Tell us about your In2science placement. For my placement I am an eMentor. This means I video conference with my students at Camperdown College once a week. It has been a challenge to figure out ways to engage the students over video as activities that can be done is very limited. However, I have learnt a lot about how to engage people, even when there is a screen separating you.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The best thing is when you see the students eyes light up when you hit something that they are interested in. They may not enjoy what they’re learning in class but the interest is still there, and when you find it, it is very rewarding.

What’s one of the biggest challenges about In2science? The biggest challenge I have come upon is building that connection with the students when they may not be available every week. A big part of being a mentor is having the trust between you and the student that they are comfortable to talk to you about school and what they want to do in the future. And it is very hard to build that when you see them a once a week, and at times you don’t see a student for a couple of weeks due to school events or holidays.

What inspired you to study what you are studying? I was always a curious child and when I started science in high school and I loved the practical side and loved that moment when everything we learnt in theory clicked when applied in practical classes. As I went through high school I was drawn to the microscopic side of science and the further I got the more curious I got and I wanted to know why and how. I guess I was inspired by my teacher’s questions and encouragement to keep helping me along the way.

What message do you hope to pass onto the students you are mentoring? I want them to know that there is so much to discover and to keep asking why and how. I want them to know to keep trying and not to let what others say stop them to reach where they want to go, because there is always a way if you keep trying.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? I want to go into haematology/biochemistry in a hospital lab or pathology. It’s all a big puzzle with haematology and biochem. You get given a list of results to certain tests and you need to work out what is wrong with the patient. Pathology interests me because there is still so much that isn’t known and I would love to figure just a fraction of that puzzle.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? Probably Rosalind Franklin or Dorothy Hodgkin. Rosalind was discouraged by her father because he thought that women would find it difficult to be recognised as scientists at the time. But she went onto become an expert in graphite structure and discover there were two forms of DNA,  as well as demonstrated that DNA was a double helix using X-Ray crystallography.

Dorothy had support behind her from friends and family, but was excluded from research meetings because she was a woman. However she went onto help determine the structure of penicillin and the structure of vitamin B12 and how it prevented pernicious anaemia. Dorothy won a Noble Prize for her work in this area.  

What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in the In2science program? Give it a shot, it’s definitely an opportunity to be taken. It allows you to be involved in inspiring possible future STEM students and is rewarding in a way that is hard to explain. There is a feeling of achievement and pride when a students says they understand something or want to know more.

 

Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!