[A] 1950s dial telephone was one of my best free yard sale finds as a 12-year-old. I felt like a surgeon, dissecting as I tried to understand how the intricate springs and circuits could dial an entire phone number and produce audio. Years later, I would find the same excitement in my AP Chemistry class, but with compounds and solutions instead of metal parts. Whether the thrill of winding the last number on the dial or the anticipation of pouring the final few milliliters, I have always loved solving the puzzles of science. Creating the bridge between the unknown and the mundane is at the heart of what attracts me to engineering, but equally I am drawn to how these exciting connections are related to our everyday lives. This past summer, I attended a research internship to engineer a diabetic breathalyzer, and I still vividly remember the excitement I felt when realizing my project could one day provide tangible, commonplace benefits.
Having lived with my diabetic grandmother for many years, I have strong personal feelings about the disease and would be eager to study the connection between medicine and chemical engineering, using both fields to create products that potentially benefit others.
Realistically, I believe that my contribution to society would not come in the form of a revolutionary cancer cure or a method to eradicate diabetes worldwide. My goal is not to be the next Pasteur, but to bring affordable and widely accessible medicine to the general public, especially to countries where underprivileged citizens cannot afford traditional treatment. Many engineers want to create the next penicillin; I wish to scientifically modify and synthesize products that will be widely available. By pursuing a doctorate degree, I will further increase my arsenal of scientific tools to construct my methods of improving human life. In my future career, I see myself studying on the cutting edge of science, but rather than attempting to find or produce a miracle drug, I will instead use my background in engineering to study and produce medicine in order to decrease costs or expedite accessibility. Even though I may not win Nobel Prizes for my behind-the-scene research or end up on the front page of Scientific American, as long as the fruits of my labor allow more people to access cheap medicine on a wider scale, I am completely satisfied.
We are proud to announce Alvin Zhou is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for his essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.