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Jean’s Bio

  • Majors: Chemistry and Psychology
  • Hometown: Albany, New York

Aside from a brief flirtation with being an astronaut when she was 5, Jean Kang has always wanted to be a doctor.

But at UB, she won’t have to stress over medical school entrance exams. A Presidential scholar, Jean was offered admission to UB’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences upon her undergraduate acceptance. She applied for the guaranteed admission program at the time of her scholarship application and now has a clear path to med school, no MCATs required.

“I decided that if I was going to med school, this was the way to go,” Jean said. “From everything I’ve heard from people who’ve already gone through med school, are in med school or are trying to get into med school, that was the worst thing: studying for MCATs. How much time it takes, doing interviews, flying all across the country, how much it costs, how nerve-wracking it is. So I thought if I can get that out of the way now, going into college, then that would probably be the best choice.”

Jean in China

Jean visiting China.

With a little extra time on her hands now, Jean has been doing some research on her own, following up on earlier studies she did on using carbon nanotubes to target treatment to specific cancerous cells.

“I just feel like there is a sense of community here. There’s a lot of pride in Buffalo – like the Bills, of course, and the Sabres. We don’t always win, but that pride is always there. And that’s really cool to see.”

“It’s just kind of an extension of what I’ve done in the past and things I’m interested in,” she said. “I figured that since I don’t have to take the MCAT, I should be taking that time and doing something else with it.”

Not that Jean has all that much spare time to begin with. She works part-time in the chemistry department, serves as a teaching assistant in chemistry, is a member of the UB pre-med society has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity.

She also has a job at Mercy Hospital shadowing doctors and filling out patient medical charts. Jean’s not sure what branch of medicine she would like to ultimately pursue, but working 12-hour hospital shifts is an excellent way to get introduced to the ins and outs of the medical field.

“I’ve learned about all kinds of medical conditions. You can read about them in textbooks or see them on TV, but I’m actually seeing them in real life,” she said. “Actually meeting the people, interacting with patients and seeing how the doctors make their decisions, it’s definitely a very valuable insight.”

Based on her own experience as a patient, Jean is considering exploring a career in orthopedics or rehabilitation sciences. She has always been athletic, but during her senior year in high school, she tore an ACL. She played rugby in her freshman year at UB, but tore the ACL in her other leg. The next year, Jean joined the women’s crew team. She loves that she can still challenge herself physically and compete against others, but without as much contact or potential for injury as other sports.

Jean rowing

Jean enjoys rowing, a sport she started after coming to UB.

“I’ve always done athletics, all through middle school and high school, so it’s just a part of my daily routine,” she said. “I’d be a little lost if I didn’t do it. When I had my ACL surgery, I was out for like six months, and I couldn’t run. I couldn’t do anything. I thought I was going to go crazy. Rowing is a very big commitment, but I’ve met a lot of great people. A lot of my teammates are my best friends, and I enjoy having the support of our community of athletes.”

Jean has also grown attached to students she’s met as part of UB’s Honors College, as well as those she met on a research trip to Rice University. As a freshman, she was one of about a dozen students nationwide chosen to participate in a collaborative research program called NanoJapan. The program brings together students from across the U.S. and Japan to work on nanoparticle research and other projects. The U.S. contingent was supposed to travel to Japan that summer for a 10-week stay, but because of earthquakes and the tsunami that occurred that year, the group spent the duration of the study at Rice, which along with UB was one of the sponsoring U.S. universities. The group later made a 10-day trip to Japan to present its research and reconvenes socially every New Year’s Eve.

The trip to Japan had additional significance for Jean. Her bucket list includes visiting at least 50 countries in her lifetime. So far, she’s at seven and counting.

“I love traveling,” she said. “I don’t like staying in one place for too long.”

Last updated: March 13, 2014 11:10 am EST