Hey everybody! My name is Sareen Ali and I’m currently in my last days of being a senior at Pitt! I am a Pittsburgh native from the suburbs in the North Hills and am extremely happy with the undergraduate experience I had at Pitt. Even though I’m about to graduate ~virtually ~ the days when I was in your shoes as an incoming student don’t feel that long ago.
I’ll be graduating with a B.S. in Neuroscience, another B.S. with honors in Psychology, a B.A. in French, a minor in Chemistry and a certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. I have always had a hard time choosing just ONE thing to study because so many different subjects interest me. Luckily, Pitt’s curricular structure didn’t force me to take just one path, and I was able to study everything I wanted and even obtain degrees in those subjects! This Fall, I’ll be continuing my education in medical school at either the University of Pittsburgh or Northwestern’s Feinberg Medical School.
Outside of academics, my 4 years at Pitt have been filled with involvement on campus and in the local community. I have pursued research in both Neurobiology and Social Psychology which was only made possibly by Pitt’s diverse research opportunities. I also volunteered at UPMC Children’s Hospital and was a board member at the Islamic Community of Pittsburgh’s food pantry. Additionally, I was a member of the Pakistani Student Association, a member of a pre-health sorority called Rho Psi Eta, briefly a photographer for the Pitt News, a teaching assistant for a few courses and an online tutor with Varsity Tutors. During breaks, I studied abroad to Paris to supplement my French major, to London as part of a Neuroscience/Psychology program on the impacts of war & trauma on children, and to Ecuador to volunteer in a medical clinic. There’s no limit to how involved you want to be and what specifically you want to be involved with, and there’s plenty of time to engage with academic opportunities AND have fun as well!
I was involved with the Honors College from my first day of undergrad as a resident at Sutherland West. This decision really shaped college for me as my close friends were from my floor freshman year, and many of my future colleagues also ended up living or having lived in that building. Living with Honors students gave me a good sense of community and pushed me to be more involved with the Honors college since I heard about their programs and offerings first-hand in the dorms.
I further involved myself by taking Honors courses. It was in these courses that I learned the most and met some of the coolest people I know! Honors Human Physiology was offered through the medical school and taught by the same professor who teaches the first year medical students, and Honors Functional Neuroanatomy taught me more about neuroscience than any other course I took in the major. I also took advantage of Honors advising, scholarship advising and attended programs like Brilliant Breakfasts which brought community leaders of all careers to chat with students over breakfast! All of these experiences influenced me to become a UHC Ambassador to guide incoming and prospective students through all of the opportunities available.
I was a prospective Pitt student not too long ago and I remember having grown up thinking I would leave Pittsburgh and go to a school far away. However, the day I visited Pitt and interacted with the students and faculty really changed my mindset. At other schools I visited, it seemed like everyone was concerned with what I would bring to the school and how I would contribute to the community. At Pitt, I got the sense that it was more about how the school could help YOU and give YOU the resources you need to achieve your goals. It was less, “What can you do for us,” and more, “What can we do for you,” which resonated with me. I was also lucky enough to be a Chancellor’s Scholar which further solidified my desire to attend Pitt, and as a soon-to-be alumni, I can say I made the right call!
The students, staff and faculty I have met and relationships I’ve made at Pitt have made it the best experience I could have imagined. Above all, the Honors College helped me meet like-minded and passionate people who have changed my perspective on many things and challenged me to be the best student and person I can be. The Honors College does a great job providing interdisciplinary experiences that can appeal to students of all backgrounds. As a Pitt student, I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities, try as many new things as you can and to not limit yourself! Even if something is outside your comfort zone or taking place a little too early in the morning, just show up anyways. You might meet someone who will become a great friend or learn something that’ll change your way of thinking. Finding what opportunities suit you can involve a lot of trial and error, but you’ll have plenty of time and resources to do so! But along the way, it’ll never hurt to try a little bit of everything.