After skipping 8th grade and entering high school early, senior Catherine Hand started as a freshman at the University of Dallas at 16 years old for the Catholic environment and the excellent science program.
“I really liked the small campus vibe, and I really liked that when I first visited here many of the students seemed to help each other a lot,” Hand said. She was especially attracted to the biochemistry program.
“The science here is super strong. It’s not really talked about that much,” Hand said.
“When I first went here, [chemistry professors] Dr. [Ellen] Steinmiller and Dr. [Scott] Boegeman told me that the acceptance rate for biochemistry majors into medical school was 100% for the past 18 years.”
The impressive acceptance rate convinced Hand to attend UD to study biochemistry, even though as a legal minor, it meant she had to live at home during her freshman year. Her mother moved to Irving from Huntington Beach, Calif. so Hand could attend UD as a commuter. Hand continues to commute this year.
“I want to get into medical school,” Hand said. She plans to enter oncology for cancer prevention and treatment.
The main factor inspiring her decision to pursue oncology was her father. Hand’s father was diagnosed with stage-3 colon cancer when she was eleven months old. Unfortunately, he lost his battle right before she graduated high school. Consequently, she spent a lot of time in and out of the healthcare world, which influenced her pursuit of science.
“I just want to help people that are going through what my dad went through.”
Hand completed the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in July and received her results in August. Although she still has the biochemistry senior comprehensive exam to complete next semester, she has started applying to various medical schools, including Baylor University and University of California-Los Angeles.
During this shortened semester, Hand is balancing a heavy course load while being involved in campus life, even as a commuter. Hand is the President of the Pre-Health Society and Vice President of the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society.
Along with her biochemistry major, Hand is pursuing a music concentration. She is taking advanced piano lessons and is a member of the UD Schola directed by adjunct music professor Brian Bentley.
“He is so sweet and wholesome,” Hand said about Bentley as the Schola director.
Hand is also a member of the Asian American Student Association (ASA) and captain of the UD swim club, both of which have reduced their regular events during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the pandemic has not shortened her work as the Editor in Chief for UD’s Science Journal, a student-run publication which encourages fellow UDers to “get excited about science.”
“I know a lot of times our papers can have ridiculous jargon that is super hard for people to understand, so by doing the UD Journal of Science, we are kind of condensing research papers in a way that is more accessible and understandable to people who aren’t science majors.”
Although she knows that UD is known for the humanities, she encourages her fellow students to engage in other disciplines in order to be “more well rounded.”
As a senior close to completing her fall semester, Hand advises underclassmen, particularly pre-med students, to keep up their GPA but also enjoy their time in college.
“It goes by so fast,” Hand said. “Honestly, I cannot believe I will graduate in less than a year.”