My name is Katie Sparling. I will be participating in the 2021-2022 Jesus College Fellowship at the University of Cambridge. At the University of Pittsburgh, I am a rising junior pursuing a major in biological sciences with minors in chemistry and Spanish. I am the president and co-founder of Soccer for Social Change, a service-based club that works to provide mentorship and foster the development of character-building attributes to refugee and American children in low-income Pittsburgh communities through sports-based programming. In addition to my on-campus activities, I am probably the biggest fan of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings you’ll meet. (I can recite the first 30 minutes of the first Hobbit movie by heart). At home, I work as an emergency medical technician, and on occasion, ref soccer games. After university, I hope to matriculate to medical school where I have aspirations of becoming a physician.
My origin story for the Jesus College Fellowship at the University of Cambridge is rather unconventional. The first time I heard about the program, I thought I would never do it. I didn’t know it was possible for pre-medicine students to spend a year abroad and still stay on track for their future. After I did a little more digging, and met with some previous fellows, my mind changed dramatically. They were able to do it, so why can’t I? The principal attractor that drew me to apply for this opportunity was the academic rigor that is associated with the UK educational systems. I know this experience will be both an obstacle and an asset because it will force me outside of my comfort zone. I am absolutely thrilled to start this adventure and am excited to take you all along with me!
Academically, my goals for the program are twofold. First, I hope to develop my scientific writing skills. At the moment, I know this is a major weakness of mine, and because the educational system is primarily essay-based at the University of Cambridge, through repetition and constructive criticism from my supervisors, I believe my skills will become much sharper. Secondly, I hope to gain additional laboratory experience. Each course that I’m taking this year is paired with a practical, and some of them can be 3-4 hours long.
Professionally, I look forward to meeting with various professors and researchers across campus. I hope to meet with the Head Tutor as well. All of these meeting will help me develop my professional speaking skills as well as various interview responses. I am not certain if I will decide to conduct research at Cambridge this year because I do not know the difficulty of the courses, and don’t want to overload my schedule before the school year has begun; however, I am very excited to meet the academic community!
I have a list of personal goals I hope to achieve this year at Cambridge, and the first one is to join the rowing team. Cambridge has a novice rowing group, and in my opinion, rowing is such a quintessential aspect of the university. I plan to attend as many formals at as many different colleges as I can comfortably fit in my schedule. A formal is a fancy dinner that each college hosts 3-4 times a week. Another personal goal of mine is to find a Spanish-speaking club or weekly roundtable. Spanish has been an integral part of my college career, and as with any new language, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Thank you for joining me in my first post of the year! I depart very soon and have been fully packed for 3 days. (I think my parents are ready for me to go too!) I am excited to see how this blog will develop over time, and I am thrilled to have you all along for the ride!