Kim Nguyen celebrates her climb to Machu PicchuHer experiences at the University of Windsor have led biology student Kim Nguyen to new heights — including a climb to Machu Picchu.

University experience leads student to new heights

Starting university is a major project in confidence and personal development. For biology student Kim Nguyen, spreading her wings to become known beyond her high school friends was a leap of faith.

“Going into undergrad, I was super shy and kept to my high school friend group,” she says.

Making the leap to meet new people — including professors — meant consulting instructors, finding ways to volunteer in labs, and joining student groups.

“Get to know your professors and ask for help during office hours,” Nguyen says. “They are a great resource.”

Nguyen’s advice is a personal testimonial to her recent presentation win at Ontario Biology Day 2021.

“I started looking into research at the end of my first year and began volunteering in the Porter Lab at the beginning of second year,” she says.

Soon, Nguyen went from a volunteer to having professor Lisa Porter as her advisor for her undergraduate thesis. By asking questions and showing her interest in the research, she has developed bonds with research leaders, graduate assistants, and other graduate students in the lab.

Nguyen also ventured into student groups. She signed on as a peer mentor in the LEAD program, became an active member of the Friends of MSF, and joined Best Buddies UWindsor.

Now she is preparing to apply to medical school with letters of reference and an impressive peer support network that is getting her through the pandemic and the application process.

“After completing my fourth year in Health and Biomedical Sciences, I have friends that I would not have met if I didn’t decide to socialize outside of my familiar bubble,” says Nguyen.

She counts as her favourite Lancer moment travelling to Costa Rica for Alternative Spring Break — a trip led by dean of science Chris Houser and Simon du Toit, co-ordinator of the Outstanding Scholars Program.

Nguyen’s newfound confidence brought her to new heights in the classroom and beyond, culminating in her climb in the Andes to the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu.

—Tim Brunet

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