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Terminalia bentzoe, known as ‘benjoin’ in my local vernacular, is a plant endemic to Mauritius. In the past, local people would use its leaves to make decoctions against the common cold but unfortunately, this subspecies is today vulnerable in its natural habitat. Certainly, we do not want this plant to become extinct. After all, what if it hides biomedical secrets? As a chemical and biomolecular engineer, I will be able to work towards uncovering such secrets. My interest in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering stems from my aspiration to develop new drugs to treat incurable diseases and improve healthcare around the world. Penn School of Engineering not only offers a compelling combination of the features I deem most important as part of my future university experience but will also provide me with myriad opportunities to render this very journey adventurous and exciting.
I want to major in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and follow a concentration in Pharmaceutics and Biotechnology with the Drug Discovery and Development (CBE 562), Drug Delivery (CBE 564) and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (CBE 553) courses, amongst others. As I am eager to be part of the exciting future of nanoparticles, I am interested in a minor in Nanotechnology. Indeed, the big potential of the very small perhaps lays the foundation for the next medical breakthroughs that will bring about innovation in healthcare technologies. However, the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor also appeals to me as it will equip me with the skills I need to be able to hopefully set up my own research company one day. In the long term, I intend to explore the biomedical potential of the lesser-known living biological labs, i.e. plants, especially in tropical islands like my own country and work on cost-effective methods of drug production in order to democratise access to medicines.
Apart from its world-class academic programs, I also chose Penn’s School of Engineering because of the unparalleled research opportunities it offers to undergraduates. The encouragement which professors at Penn give to their students when it comes to research is indeed inspiring. I am thus enthusiastically looking forward to take part in research projects in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, with a particular interest in ‘Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology’. Moreover, as a sophomore, I would like to apply for the Rachleff Scholars Program as it will enable me to acquire valuable hands-on research experience and essential skills such as problem-solving and data analysis.
I will continue to explore my academic interests outside of the classroom by engaging in Service Learning projects which will be an interesting way for me to apply the knowledge I will gain to the real world. I would love to form part of the Penn Engineering Without Borders (PennEWB) organization and take part in sustainable projects aimed at improving the standard of living of people in developing communities. Additionally, taking part in an international engineering project will allow me to view the world through a new lens and will better prepare me for a career in the global workplace. As a feminist, I also want to form part of Penn chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and help to advance women in engineering since even in the twenty-first century, engineering is still a field where women are under-represented.
It is said that for every disease known to mankind, there is a plant to cure it. As for Terminalia Bentzoe, who knows that it may contain the solution to one of the current biggest global challenges, that is, antibiotic resistance? An education at Penn’s School of Engineering coupled with Penn’s robust liberal arts program will allow me to answer such questions and dedicate myself to the welfare of humanity as an engineer.
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