Meet our DU Alumni (2017-2019)

 

Frania Mendoza Lua

  • Degree Type: PhD
  • Program of Study: Social Work
  • Division: Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice
  • Participated in Discover UChicago: 2017

Why did you apply to the Discover UChicago program?

The program felt like a great opportunity that afforded me a chance to see the campus and connect with potential faculty that I was interested in working with. Furthermore, I did not know anyone else that was applying to graduate school, so I felt I needed to find a space with people who were in the same mindset as me to get different perspectives on the process. Discover UChicago helped me connect with different accountability partners, faculty, and staff who supported me throughout the application process until submission.

What was the most memorable thing to you about the Discover UChicago program? 

The staff at UChicagoGRAD were welcoming and supportive about our interests and found ways to connect us to information. Post Discover UChicago, I remember feeling very comfortable reaching out to the staff to ask for feedback or just to ask further questions. Additionally, I met some awesome people that I still talk to here at the university and at other institutions. In the program, it was not just graduate school talk, and we had opportunities to get to the know campus, explore Hyde Park, and try different restaurants in the city of Chicago.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering Discover UChicago?

Apply! It is a great opportunity to just familiarize yourself with the resources and people at the University of Chicago. The application process felt more personal and intentional knowing that I had made prior connections and understood the resources and opportunities available to further develop my research interests. For students who are not from the city of Chicago, it’s a great opportunity to get a feel for Hyde Park and determine whether it is a good place to potentially call home for the next two to five years.

 

Diag D.

  • Degree Type: PhD
  • Program of Study: Behavioral Science
  • Division: Booth School of Business
  • Participated in Discover UChicago: 2017

Why did you apply to the Discover UChicago program?

I identified the University of Chicago early on in the application process as my dream program, but I wasn’t very confident in my competitiveness. I feared that Booth’s PhD program was the kind that everyone would apply to, so I figured that I’d struggle to stand out. I saw Discover UChicago both as a chance to boost my competitiveness and to enhance my confidence in my application by talking directly with other candidates as well as faculty and staff from across the university.

What was the most memorable thing to you about the Discover UChicago program? 

As an applicant, it can be difficult to get an exact sense of faculty research interests from the information posted online. I found the short descriptions of faculty research to be vague or too jargon-heavy, and reading full academic papers during the application season felt impractical. My most important memories about the DU program were those influential opportunities where I sat down with professors to learn exactly how our research interests aligned. I still remember the glow I felt from being able to toss out research ideas and see how much of a mutual fit there was.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering Discover UChicago?

Definitely apply! It is worth the time. It is worth the effort. Whether UChicago is the right school for you or not, the program offers a rare opportunity to get clarity on the graduate school process and research fit.

 

Ande Hesser

  • Degree Type: PhD
  • Program of Study: Immunoengineering
  • Division: Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering
  • Participated in Discover UChicago: 2017

Why did you apply to the Discover UChicago program?

When I was first applying to graduate programs, I didn’t quite know where to start or how to go about the process. I knew of the graduate program at UChicago, and it seemed excellent on paper, but I applied to Discover UChicago to learn more about the program and the graduate school experience as a whole. Overall, both exceeded my expectations.

What was the most memorable thing to you about the Discover UChicago program? 

The most memorable thing was the opportunity to meet with individual faculty members and discuss their research during the Discover UChicago weekend, which was instrumental in preparing my graduate school application and in my choice to attend the University of Chicago. I remember meeting with faculty, getting tours of lab spaces, and really feeling like I could picture myself here. In the end, those individual meetings not only strengthened my application, but also made me more interested in this school as a whole.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering Discover UChicago?

In my experience, only good things can come from participating in Discover UChicago! Meeting with faculty and touring the campus can help you to learn more about UChicago, and the application workshops and other activities will help to navigate the process as you prepare applications to graduate schools.

 

Abby Lee

  • Degree Type: PhD
  • Program of Study: Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • Division: Physical Sciences Division
  • Participated in Discover UChicago: 2018

Why did you apply to the Discover UChicago program?

I thought it was a great opportunity to meet some of the faculty I was interested in working with and see the campus!

What was the most memorable thing to you about the Discover UChicago program? 

The most memorable thing was getting to talk to professors in-person that I was interested in working with for my PhD and hearing about potential research projects.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering Discover UChicago?

Talk about your past research experiences in-depth and emphasize how you contributed to the projects specifically.

 

DeVon Ingram

  • Degree Type: PhD
  • Program of Study: Mathematics
  • Division: Physical Sciences Division
  • Participated in Discover UChicago: 2018

Why did you apply to the Discover UChicago program?

I saw that Discover UChicago provided me an opportunity to talk to current professors and graduate students from the University of Chicago. Because of this opportunity, I had a better idea of what life would be like as a graduate student in the Mathematics program. Lastly, I looked forward to networking with other prospective graduate students from underrepresented groups.

What was the most memorable thing to you about the Discover UChicago program? 

During the program, I received a tour of campus from one of the current Ph.D. students in Mathematics. I became a lot more familiar with campus because the tour was tailored to my interests. The student showed me that UChicago offers free practice rooms and that the first-year Ph.D. students share a large, open office that is intended to foster collaboration. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of diversity in the department. Because of this tour, UChicago became one of my top choices for graduate school.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering Discover UChicago?

Try to take advantage of any opportunity offered to you!

 

Ali Alamri

  • Degree Type: PhD
  • Program of Study: Computational Neuroscience
  • Division: Biological Sciences Division
  • Participated in Discover UChicago: 2019

Why did you apply to the Discover UChicago program?

The University of Chicago has one of the best computational neuroscience programs in the world. I wanted to see what my future home would look like if I got the opportunity to attend.

What was the most memorable thing to you about the Discover UChicago program? 

The most memorable thing was how lively the campus was and how welcoming the faculty and students were during the program.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering Discover UChicago?

Do it! There’s little to lose, and it could lead you to a new and wonderful home at the University of Chicago.

 

image of student smiling

Santiago Acero Bedoya

  • Degree Type: PhD
  • Program of Study: Cancer Biology
  • Division: Biological Sciences Division
  • Participated in Discover UChicago: 2018

Why did you apply to the Discover UChicago program?

I was in the middle of preparing my graduate school applications and knew that being able to visit UChicago would allow me to get a better sense of the school and city, but also help in connecting with my program before I even submitted my application. 

I was able to use a lot of the material that I had been preparing for my graduate school applications and vice versa. At the time, I did get lots of great feedback from a current student in my program of interest.

What was the most memorable thing to you about the Discover UChicago program? 

Apart from being able to meet with faculty in my discipline, my favorite part was being able to interact and network with other students from all backgrounds/disciplines. I chose UChicago partly because of its wide breath of studies, so connecting with folks from different fields was a great opportunity. Now being a graduate student at UChicago, I have taken advantage of a variety of different efforts that expand beyond my division. The exposure to students from different fields of study during DU greatly helped me to prepare for these interactions and partnerships. 

What advice would you give to prospective students considering Discover UChicago?

Absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t apply/attend! Preview programs like DU are incredibly eye (and door!) opening and DU especially has it down to a science. As a graduate student at UChicago now I always find it incredibly rewarding to help out with DU from the other side and share any experience/advice that may be helpful to prospective students. We all truly just want to help prospective students in any way we can, so come join us! 

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