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BMSA Podcast: Double Major-Pharmacology/ Med Cell Biology

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Interviewer: Nuzhat

Interviewee: Boaz Ehiogu

Nuzhat: Hello and welcome to the ITR session of BMSA where we interview senior students in the Medical Science program to give you a better background for your Intent to Register choices. My name is Nuzhat and today we’re joined by Boaz Ehiogu, who is a current fourth year student doing a Double Major in Pharm and Med Cell Bio. And so, we’re very excited to have him with us today. So Boaz, tell me a little bit about yourself.

Boaz: Well hi, hi everyone. I am a fourth year student in Medical Cell Biology and Pharmacology. There is a lot of interest; I mean academically I’m obviously a huge science nerd. I love science. Recently I’ve been specifically focused on the central nervous system, or the nervous system as a whole; I’m really interested in that. In terms of not science, I love reading, movies, and coffee. Huge coffee fan. Shopping, hanging out with friends. You know, everything everyone else likes; you know, basic stuff. I do some research on the side. I work in the lab that focuses on Parkinson’s research and Parkinson’s treatment. I was able to do a lot of that research last year but obviously, because of what’s going on this year, I haven’t been able to go into the lab. So my side research hustle has been working on MRI access in Africa and how to improve access to medical equipment in Africa. Yeah, so that’s currently what I’m doing. But yeah, I think that gives a general idea. Those questions are always hard for me.

Nuzhat: That’s great, thank you. Alright, so tell me about the module you’re in and why Pharm and Cell Bio.

Boaz: Yeah, sure. So I am in Pharmacology and Medical Cell Biology and pretty much what it is, is it’s kind of like, for me, putting two of my favourite interests I’ve discovered so far in university and focusing on them as a whole. You’re pretty much able to take courses in Pharmacology and courses in the Anatomy and Cell Biology department. In terms of what you do in third and fourth year, it consists of mainly taking your typical Pharmacology course like Physiology, Pharmacology, the Phys Pharm lab. I think you all have Cell Physiology or some sort of Cell Biology course. You also have to take Histology and Anatomy, and I’m pretty sure that’s all for third year. In fourth year, you pretty much take 1.0 Pharmacology, and 1.0 Medical Cell Biology courses. So I’m pretty sure that’s it, that’s what I’m taking. So it’s pretty cool because in fourth year you get to focus on what you think you might like and what you might be able to do in the future. So I know for me I’ve been able to take in fourth year, Integrative Neuroscience. I’m going to take Neurobiology of Mental Health as part of my Medical Cell Biology courses. And for Pharmacology, I’m able to take Neuropharmacology and Toxicology. My program makes me take courses that I’m really interested in, and this module wasn’t really offered as an Honours Specialization, so I was able to focus on what I liked the most in Medical Sciences here in Western.

Nuzhat: That’s great to hear, and I love how specialized courses are in fourth year. So what was it about your module that made you choose it? Did you not want to do a thesis?

Boaz: So there are a few reasons. When I went into Medical Sciences, I honestly wasn’t sure what I liked and what I didn’t like. I thought I liked everything. You know, second year, first year, it’s very general, so it’s hard to get a good grasp of what you like. So I went in thinking, like, “Ok, so I might like all of it.” So I pretty much took every single general Medical Science course there was. I took Physiology, Pharmacology, Anatomy, Histology; I took Pathology, some Biochemistry courses in third year. I took summer courses as well. I took a lot of courses. I discovered that my favourite were the Anatomy courses, Histology and Anatomy, and the Pharmacology courses. There’s no Honours Specialization that you can take in both Anatomy and Pharmacology, and I wanted to do both, so I just did the Double Major. Also, at the time, when I was picking, I didn’t want to do a Capstone Project; I didn’t want to do a research project or those labs in IMS. So I decided that a Double Major was right for me.

Nuzhat: Yeah, plus you’re already doing so much research on the side, so you’re already accomplished. Sounds great. So, what did you wish you knew before choosing those modules or choosing the Double Major? Is there anything about it that surprised you or you didn‘t expect?

Boaz: You know, I wish I knew it existed beforehand. You go into Medical Sciences as a whole and everyone just talks about Honours Specializations and you don’t normally get told about the Double Majors and that you can mix and match the modules in Medical Sciences. I wish I knew it existed; and also, something people don’t know is that both a Double Major and an Honours Specialization in whatever field you choose both give you Honours Degrees. So they’re both very similar in the sense of what you graduate with. One just gives you more research experience and one doesn’t. I guess for me I get to supplement that lack of research with my good outside job that I have. Yeah, I just wish I knew it existed. So far I’m loving everything about this module, and I’m learning so much about my interests and what I like by doing Pharmacology and Medical Cell BIology that it helped me choose what module I want to do for graduate school.

Nuzhat: That’s amazing, yeah. Do you plan on continuing research after?

Boaz: Yeah. I mentioned I didn’t want to do a Capstone. But after taking those fourth year courses, I loved the neuro aspects of what I was learning, and I want to learn more. What you realize when you’re in the last year of undergrad is that you’ve reached the bounds of knowledge and your job going further into science careers is to advance the knowledge of science. So, I realized that I do want to continue in research and I do want to improve what we know about the brain and our bodies as a whole. My goal is to continue research within both Pharmacology and treating the brain, and Medical Biology; understanding the cellular stuff of the brain and the nervous system as a whole.

Nuzhat: Yeah, that’s awesome. It’s also reassuring that you figured it out in fourth year because a lot of us in third year are unsure.

Boaz: Yeah, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until the end of third year.

Nuzhat: Yeah, that’s really reassuring. So, what final words do you have to say to the first or second years that are listening, who may be going through some confusion for this whole process; so, choosing modules and the registration process and all that.

Boaz: Yeah, I think I would tell them that it’s ok to have absolutely no idea what you want to do. People told me in my first year, Grade 12, and second year, and it didn’t make sense to me. I thought I knew what I wanted to do, or I thought I had to know what I wanted to do. Quite frankly, you just don’t, and things change. For example, I thought I wanted to go into Physiology, or like the Physiology module. And, after taking Physiology, I realized I absolutely hated it. You might need it for Pharmacology; I liked how we learned it in Pharmacology. We learn things as we go on; as you take the courses you learn more about yourself, through time. Things change; things may sound good in theory, and end up being horrible when you are actually doing them. So it’s ok to not know, and it’s ok for you to change your mind. Like, however many times you want to. I actually came into first year thinking I was going to do Genetics and Biochemistry and here I am now, so yeah. I’ve changed my mind so many times; I was very, very close to doing a Major in Sociology, because I took Sociology. I almost did a Double Major in Pharmacology and Sociology, yeah. So it’s ok to not know; it’s ok to have broad interests.

Nuzhat: But it’s also nice, how flexible you are.

Boaz: Yeah! That’s the thing too! Make sure to be flexible; be ok with trying new things. As I mentioned before, I literally took every single, or most, of the third year Medical Science courses. I took Phys, Path, Pharm, Anatomy, Biochemistry; there are a lot. Only a few courses I didn’t take, like Epidemiology. I would have taken them if I had time, I would’ve taken those courses. Yeah, honestly be flexible, be willing to change. Talk to people: sophs, not sophs. There’s a great presence on Facebook. I know people don’t use Facebook now. I don’t know why; it’s great, but there’s a great presence of upper years who have gone through it and are in Must Knows and what not. So, you can just ask around, and you know, it’s ok to not know until you know, you know.

Nuzhat: For sure, thank you; that’s great advice.

Boaz: No problem.

Nuzhat: So thank you Boaz for joining us today and taking the time to tell these students this information. And, with that, we’re going to conclude. So that was BMSA’s ITR session for doing a Double Major. Check back on our website and social media platforms for ITR podcasts for other module options with new students next week. Thank you for listening and we hope this has been helpful.

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