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Discovering your path in biological sciences can be tricky. Here was my path I took in High school that set me up for college and my career!
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A High Schoolers Path to Biological Sciences

Discover Your Path in Biological Sciences

Discovering your path in biological sciences? Hello, my name is Miguel Barranco-Original. I am one of the major advisors here at ReadyEdgeGo for biology and health sciences. I am currently in the midst of applying to medical school and hope that I can stay here in California to study/practice medicine. The end goal is to become a trauma surgeon and a physician that advocates for the underserved communities whether it be via programs, outreach, or education. 

Biological Science Classes in High School

My interest in biology/medicine initially stemmed from my anatomy and physiology course in high school. I vividly remember the smell of formaldehyde during our two-week cat dissection. While many of my classmates became nauseous due to the stench, I actually enjoyed the scent. This may have been me associating the smell with the fact that I could cut into a cat cadaver, but nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this experience enough to want to major in Molecular Biology while at UC Berkeley. Before I dive into my time at UC Berkeley, I’d like to take some time to share all I did in high school. 

While I was in high school I was a three-season athlete, I volunteered at a local tutoring center, and I danced. All of these were big interests of mine and I learned very valuable lessons from each experience. Traits like perseverance, humility, dependability, and adaptability are skills that I learned from these experiences outside of biology, but I was able to, and am still able to, put them to use while pursuing my passion of medicine.

Many Biological Science Topics

I think it is important for high school students and even college students going into a particular field whether it be biology, medicine, engineering, chemistry, art, etc.  To realize that your entire world does not need to revolve around the one given field or subject. This is not to dissuade students from doing so. But more to let them know that it is okay to explore interests outside of their given major. For example, if you’re a student in high school planning to pursue biology and are debating whether to do a summer sports camp versus a neuroscience summer program, I say pick the one you will enjoy more. For some students that will be sports and for others it will be the neuroscience program, both are equally fine choices. The message is that the experience will be more impactful if it is something the student truly wants to do. 

What should a High School Student Interested in Biology do?

So the big question is: “What should a high school student interested in biology do?” Simply put there is no single answer as everyone’s journey will be different. However, the best place to start is with the classes students can choose to take in high school. Biology, chemistry, and physics are all great classes to begin exploring the realm of biological sciences. I would encourage students that find real interest in these courses. To take the AP equivalence of the courses. Then even additional courses that their high school offers like anatomy and physiology, psychology, environmental sciences, etc..

Taking AP Biology Courses

The more the student can immerse themselves in these classes the more they expose themselves to different disciplines of biology. The hope is by taking all these courses there is a certain topic. A field, question in biology that will intrigue the student and make them want to seek more knowledge and information. This is great and all, but students may ask “What if I have other commitments like work, sports, clubs that do not allow me to take all these AP courses?”

To these students, I would say, “If you do not have the time to take all these AP courses, at least attempt to take one.” This is because it shows that the student took the initiative to further explore their interest. Regardless, there is one main goal of high school.  It is for the students attempting to go into a field of biology to get into a four year college. Or at least community college and then transfer to a four year college. The point in even mentioning this is to let students know that there is time. In order to pursue, explore, and discover their true interest in biology or really any field. 

My Biological Science Major

I was fortunate enough to know that I wanted to major in Molecular Biology entering UC Berkeley. But students do not need to know their major going in.  Every single undergraduate student enters undeclared. Meaning that there is no pressure for students to know exactly what they want to do. The first year of college will really be spent taking a lot of general courses. Like English, math, etc. This means that students can and should explore their school. To look for services that will help them navigate their undergrad career.  These resources are especially useful for biological sciences majors. As they will help students understand the system and take advantage of how to pair courses for the best grades/learning. For example, it would not be recommended to take general biology, organic chemistry, and physics all at once.

While this is definitely possible, students run the risk of burning out or performing poorly in the courses. This is due to the rigor and amount of work of all the courses. I could go on and on about tips and tricks for science majors. Navigating undergrad, but that is something that can be covered in a later post. It was during my time at UC Berkeley that I got most of my clinical experience. I have worked as an EMT for the past 4 years. I was also lucky enough to spend two summers at Johns Hopkins as an advanced medicine academic advisor for Envision. While doing all of this, I still continued to do the things that interested me in high school. In new forms: coaching high school wrestling and teaching dance for Salsa at Cal. 

Obtaining My Biological Science Degree

In college, while stressful and hard, did teach me a lot about myself, and how much I can truly handle. There were times when I had to juggle multiple commitments/responsibilities. During these times of stress, I think it is important that people just take a moment to breathe. To remind themselves why they are doing this.  I always think of the bigger picture, to remind myself what I am striving for and that I will get there.

Discovering Your Path in Biological Sciences Conclusion

In medicine or really any career path, no one’s journey is the same and what worked for me may not work for you. However, you can definitely learn from my experiences and choose what you want to do with the information. I hope that this small part of my story can help students navigate the world of the biological sciences. I look forward to sharing more and possibly talking with a few of you.

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See you soon!

Miguel Barranco
ReadyEdgeGo Mentor – Biological and Health Sciences

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Liz Robles

Major Advisor - Art, Multimedia, Design

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 2

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love to motivate students to find their true passion. It’s so rewarding to see students succeed in a field they enjoy.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I enjoy arts and crafts, doing outdoorsy things such as hiking or picnics and the nightlife with friends.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Time management is key. Have a healthy balance between your work/school and social life.

Justin Siu

Major Advisor - Premed

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 3 years.

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Every student is so unique, with their own story, skills, strengths, and personality. I love embarking on that journey with them, albeit temporarily, in helping them envision and execute their own vision for their life.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I love spending the little free time I have exploring new foods with friends and family. If I'm lucky, I spend it trying to build my sketching/design/sewing skills in hopes of building my second dream career as a runway couture designer.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: When envisioning a life career, utilize the Japanese philosophy of ikigai (translated as 'reason for being'). An ideal career meets at the intersection of passion, mission, profession, and vocation. Evaluate each of these components when envisioning yourself in a life path/career.

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Pranshul Goel

Major Advisor - Premed, Biology, Chemistry

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 1

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: The ability to help students find their passion for their lifelong careers.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I am an avid hiker/backpacker, musician, and love to learn about medical breakthroughs

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Take time for yourself and enjoy life, so that when you are in school, it does not feel like a chore.

Xenia Bremseth

Major Advisor - Business

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 14

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: When they have the lightbulb moment and everything clicks into place for them.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Travel, yoga, run, hike, eat lots of good food

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Enjoy life as it today; don’t be in such a rush to be an adult because most of life is being an adult.

Bridgette Well

Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: In writing, editing, tutoring, and college support, I have a combined 9.5 years of experience

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I like getting to know students as individuals, holding space to help them connect more deeply with themselves, witnessing “green light” moments when new ideas or perspectives create a positive shift, and learning what feels important to them.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I enjoy spending time with friends, meditation and yoga, listening to music, being in nature, making/consuming art (painting, singing, poetry, performance), and learning about the world and universe we live in.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Be kind to yourself.

Ariana Lee

Admissions Advisor, Apps Advisor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 12

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love hearing their stories. There's so much to discover about a person. It's very rewarding when my students get comfortable and know that I'm there for them.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Swim, read, write, sing, enjoy nature, and play with my two crazy boys.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Do what you love, and everything else will fall into place.

Tam Minton

Apps Advisor, Major Advisor - Social Sciences

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 16

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love getting to know them and helping them know themselves!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Scuba dive, write, travel.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Don't worry about everyone else's opinion, be your authentic self!

Julian Hoffman

Admissions Advisor, Apps Advisor, Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 5

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Hearing each student's unique stories, guiding them in discovering their passions, and helping find their voice!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I am a figure skater, world traveler, dessert aficionado, and devotee of the Pioneer Woman, the Barefoot Contessa, and Maneet Chauhan!

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Work hard now -- procrastinate later!

Sarah Gooch

Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: I have five years' experience in coaching student writing, but this is my first year with ReadyEdgeGo.

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love helping students find depth and meaning in their own stories—but I also just love it when they make me laugh!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In theory, I enjoy painting and writing poetry, but these days I actually spend most of my free time socializing or watching movies with my husband.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Don't just focus on achieving top grades and credentials because they look good on applications, or your education will be meaningless. The numbers and awards have their place, but stay connected to your sense of curiosity, discovery, excitement, and wonder so that the content you're learning is constantly transforming you—it's something you care about, something you remember after the final exam. Work on the aspects of yourself no one can measure, like integrity, wisdom, kindness, and compassion, so that you're not only developing your academic and career potential but also investing in the type of adult you're going to be, the person you'll have to live with after you clock out every day for the rest of your life. Doing the hard inner work of building your character and learning deeply instead of just earning grades will set you up for a satisfying, well-rounded life. Strange as it sounds, it will also put you ahead in your academic and career goals, because colleges and hiring managers aren't looking for an empty set of data on a spreadsheet; they want a fully fleshed-out person marked by passion, creativity, and a story no one else has lived. So go on studying hard for tests, but also spend some time asking yourself what matters in life and who your role models are. Read up on topics that amaze you, and build something incredible just for fun. Cultivate that spark of joy you feel when you're immersed in a subject that fascinates you. If you can hit that balancing act of doing your homework and meeting deadlines but also investing in the kind of person you want to be, then trust that all the rest will follow: schools will recognize you as a dynamic, all-star person, and you will also build a life of happiness, close relationships, and peace.

Sherrie Malleis

Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: I have more than 15 years experience teaching writing to all ages.

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love assisting students to achieve their educational goals.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I love to go hiking on the trails around the dunes of Lake Michigan.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Use a calendar to help you meet your deadlines and to stay stay organized.

Bernie Nguyen

Major Advisor - STEM

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 5 years high school mentoring experience. I was heavily involved in it all throughout college and after graduating.

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love hearing about their passions and what they genuinely love to do. It also makes me extremely happy to.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I recently picked up the electric guitar! I also have multiple aquariums, and founded a company that built body armor.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Don't go down a path just because you think that's "what you're supposed to do." Life is more diverse and unexpected than any of us could ever know.

Maxx Mueller

Major Advisor - Engineering

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 1

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Getting to know student's interests and seeing their growth as students and people.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Ice Hockey, Snowboarding.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: You are more than your list of accomplishments. The growth and learning about yourself and others, and the hard work, failures, and lessons that lead to those accomplishments make you who you are.

Joanna Yang Yowler

Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 15

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love hearing students' stories and seeing their faces light up when they talk about their passions and dreams.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Cook, write, draw, save Azeroth .

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Pursue dreams that matter to you and don't be afraid of forging your own path to where you want to go.

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Aaron Togelang

Major Advisor - Engineering

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 2

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: It's amazing getting to know the unique and diverse passions that drive each student

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Sleep, but also video games, climb, scuba dive, and ride my motorcycle

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Do things. Just get out there and try as many cool new things you can! You never know what you'll love until you give it a shot.

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Tylar Pendgraft

Senior Essay Editor

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 9

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love how open students are to learning and trying new things. As mentors, we get to see so much growth simply because our students are so open to new experiences and are looking forward to applying their learning and other skills.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In my free time I like to read and write. I also spend a lot of time just watching--my dogs, birds, trees. I also enjoy baking and cooking (even though I'm terrible at baking).

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: It's never too early or late to start practicing self-care. Build moments of joy and celebration into your week. Give yourself a treat for working hard. It's important to have things to look forward to. If you can get into the habit now, you'll have a much more balanced college experience.

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Miguel Barranco

Major Advisor - Premed, Biology, Chemistry

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: Three years

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I enjoy getting to know them on a personal level and helping them see that their life story/experiences are unique and matter.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I coach wrestling at the high school level. Enjoy spending time with my husky, Lucy, on runs or hikes. Dancing mainly bachata and salsa. Collecting retro video games and playing them from time to time.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Make time to do things you love outside of academics. Whether that is clubs, music, art, sports, etc.

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Anika Sherma

Major Advisor - Health Sciences, Social Sciences

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 2

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: As a major advisor for students interested in the humanities, I’ve found it immensely rewarding to offer an outlet for students to explore ideas that they often don’t get to delve into at school. Watching a student light up when they realize that there is in fact a community around their specific interests is easily the best part of the job.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In my free time, I love to be outdoors - I've been hiking around the Bay Area and recently started biking again. I also volunteer at community gardens and trail restoration projects in San Francisco. When I'm not outside, you can find me reading visionary fiction, practicing yoga and qigong, or cooking.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: My advice for high school students is to focus on the present! Use this time to learn more about yourself and the world around you. Solid values and a sense of self will allow you to make challenging decisions for the future and create the life you want.

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Tushar Singla

Chief Technology Officer

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 4

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Watching them accomplish great things.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Watch Formula 1, play ice hockey, and watch TV.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Spend time exploring different things -- you have a long time to become an expert.

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Dan Zhou

Chief Executive Officer

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 16

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Inspiring a student towards self discovery, and wanting to learn about everything there is in the world. Reaching this moment can take time, but it's what makes it worth it every time.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Outdoors hiking, photography, gardening, and reading.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Do the thing that moves you, or be moved by forces not your own. The choice is yours.

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