Major spotlight: biology

Kate Verity, Staff Writer

One of GC’s more popular majors is biology. According to the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences webpage, they boast the largest number of majors on campus. The GC Fall 2022 Fact Book had 324 undergraduate students and 18 graduate students studying biology.

The biology program offers a few concentrations for students to choose from, one of which is a pre-med track. Senior Natanim Kefelw is a biology student with a pre-med concentration. She plans to use her biology degree to go to medical school.

“I think I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was maybe eight, or something, and I think most of us choose the biology route because chemistry seems really hard,” Kefelw said. “I’ve just always known what I wanted to do, I never really changed my mind and this [biology] is what people tell you is a good idea to get your prerequisites for medical school.”

Although she never doubted that being a doctor was her dream career, Kefelw has admitted to wavering in self-confidence due to the difficulties surrounding her studies.

“People always ask you, they say ‘There’s so many easier ways or jobs!’ but I don’t think that I would be happy or fulfilled,” Kefelw said. “I think the only part I’ve ever wavered in is definitely in confidence. I’m okay with working hard, but what if my best isn’t good enough? You have to work and find people who will encourage you.”

Kefelw explained that COVID-19 has led to her plans to take a gap year after graduation. The 2020 pandemic lockdowns prevented many students across all disciplines from shadowing and taking internships, but this is especially true for students looking to enter the medical field.

To apply for medical school, students must have completed a set number of hours actually gaining on-site experience. This ensures that those who apply are acutely aware of the lifestyle sacrifices and time commitments that being a doctor demands. For college students in 2020, it was impossible to log these needed hours because hospital staff was limited to essential personnel- no interns. Kefelw is planning to use the next year to make up lost time and gain this vital hands-on experience.

“After this semester, I will be taking one or two years off depending on how the MCAT goes because that’s a very difficult test,” Kefelw said. “Just because of COVID-19, a lot of people in my grade and the grade above us didn’t get the opportunities that we wanted. You have to have shadowing and volunteer hours to be able to apply because they want to make sure that this is really what you’ve decided on and what you really want.”

But Kefelw is adamant that if someone decides that medical school is truly their goal, they cannot allow anyone to scare or dissuade them.

“If you really want it bad enough, you just really have to look inside yourself and be like, ‘if this is for me, then I am going to work for it and I am not going to let anyone tell me that I can’t do it,’” Kefelw said. “Don’t make any decisions out of fear. I think a lot of the time I was so afraid of failure. I hate the idea that if I don’t get into a medical school the first time, people will know. Failure is a part of the journey and you’re supposed to fail to know what it feels like to do better.”

MCAT stands for Medical College Admission Test and it is a notoriously difficult, eight-hour test that students who wish to become doctors must take. Even if Kefelw fails this exam, she will be able to go back, study harder and retake it. Students can take the exam up to seven times in their lifetime. Kefelw will have to work hard to pass, but she has studied hard as a biology student at GC and has taken many courses that will serve her well in the future.