Experiential Learning Shifts Student’s Perspective

Marina Sharif | 2014 Alumna | Chemistry (Biochemistry Option) | Pre-med

(Update: Sharif is now a medical student at IU School of Medicine.)

Marina Sharif did not waste a moment of her time at IUPUI as a pre-med chemistry major. Starting out as an unassuming freshman, she now embodies the type of growth that many hope to find in college thanks to experiences both inside and outside of the classroom.

As an involved student, Sharif held many invaluable positions leading chemistry recitations and serving as vice president of Chemistry Club. Her leadership roles in the Women in Science House (WISH) and the Science Ambassador Leadership Team (SALT), however, were especially influential.

“One of the best decisions I made was to be engaged in what I am truly passionate about,” she said. “It makes me feel glad to have played a part in the growth of organizations that I really care about.” Her involvement led to Sharif being named a Top 100 student both years she was eligible, holding a place in the Top 10 her senior year.Marina Sharif

Because of her dual citizenship in Canada and the United States and familial ties to Pakistan, Sharif is familiar with exploring ideas from the perspectives of different cultures. However, she is continuously looking for ways to expand her understanding of the world and last summer spent three weeks studying abroad in Swaziland. During this trip, Sharif discovered something she didn’t really think she’d find.

 “I expected to go in there sort of detached as an outside observer, but when I was interacting with patients and healthcare professionals I think they brought out something in me that I didn’t really know was there” Sharif said. “After this experience I am more confident than I have ever been of my decision to pursue a career in medicine.”

Sharif is currently taking a gap year from higher education, while applying to medical school with hopes of becoming a physician. Sharif sees medicine as a complex field that incorporates both the sciences and the humanities and, as such, chose to pursue both areas in her studies through a biochemistry degree with minors in mathematics and medical humanities. This rigorous and holistic approach to education helped Sharif develop the tools she needs to be prepared for life after graduation.

During her gap year Sharif is working as a patient access representative at an outreach diagnostic center in Upland, Ind. By performing an assortment of tasks such as phlebotomy and assisting in patient registration, she is gaining clinical experience that will be beneficial to her future career goals. Sharif does not see a gap year as taking a “year off” and instead thinks it will be just as important to her education as time spent in school.

Since graduating, Sharif became involved as an alumna. She rowed for the WISH alumni team at the 2014 IUPUI Regatta and served on an alumni panel for an prospective students.