Month: February 2017

Kaniz Koli – Naturally Today

A first generation college student in her family, Kaniz Koli was born in Bangladesh before moving to the United States. She is a seventh semester diagnostic genetic sciences major here at UConn. In addition, Koli is a Difference Makers Scholarship recipient and enjoys traveling, reading, genetic research and religious study. She is part of UConn Empower and the Muslim Student Association. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.

What attracted you to UConn? I originally came to UConn for nursing. However, throughout my journey at UConn, I’ve explored many majors and careers and found diagnostic genetic sciences (DGS) to be the best one for me. I started all of my classes this semester, and, although it is a bit challenging, I am very happy to be doing this.

What is your major, and why did you choose it? I am a diagnostic genetic sciences major. It is a fairly new field that has the potential to improve the lives of billions of individuals. Many diseases we have are genetic. They can be cured by studying the human genome. DGS gives me the opportunity to study, diagnose, prevent and possibly cure such disorders.

My favorite part of DGS is knowing that scientists are actively trying to pursue precision medicine so that practices and medication can be tailored to each individual patient. All human beings are different. If two people are diagnosed with the same type of cancer, both of their bodies will react to the same medication differently because of their different sets of genes. The same medicine may cure one patient, do absolutely nothing to the second or harm the third patient. Precision medicine is customized healthcare, and, eventually, this is what I would like to focus on.

Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? I was a tutor at the Q-Center for organic chemistry, biology and logic when I was studying at the West Hartford campus. I really enjoyed the job because every day I helped students with something they didn’t understand. I saw people who put in 110% effort to get an A or a degree. I was more than honored to help them as best as I could.

Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. I took two trips out of the United States that have made a huge impact on my life. As a member of UConn Empower, 14 of us spent two weeks in A Better World Cameroon orphanage to help and empower children of all ages. We tried to implement long-term initiatives, such as preparing a huge garden and building a small library with over 12 suitcases of books and school materials. We also installed Khan Academy on 14 laptops in order to provide free education to everyone through tutorial videos.

I also took a trip this summer to help out with refugees in Greece with CTAnchor. We were able to supply the refugees with fresh running water, culturally relevant food and clothing and basic healthcare. I’ve read that empathy cannot be learned from lectures and textbooks. If I’m going to be passionate about what I do, I need to spend time with those that are underprivileged. When I see the minimal health care or the lack of resources they have, I don’t want to rest. I still speak to those I’ve gotten close to overseas, and I want to make them proud someday.

What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? I’ve been working for all four years while being a full time student, which is a challenge. Oftentimes, my jobs prevent me from performing my best in school. But, I built relationships with most of my teachers so that I could alert them if I needed extra time to finish my assignments.

When do you expect to graduate? What then?  I will be graduating in December 2017. I would like to start off by working in a certified genetic lab in Connecticut. Afterwards, I’d prefer to start doing my own research that will lead to finding cures for various genetic illnesses. I want my work to live on and benefit others even after I’m gone.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I’m proud to call myself a Husky. Even though my style of dress can intimidate fellow classmates, I am uplifted when random people smile at me. We’re all part of a bigger picture, and our differences are not enough to divide us at UConn.

This scholarship was so helpful to me. I cannot find the proper words to express my gratitude to the donor. Because I have a religious objection to loans with interest, I think this scholarship is ideal for meeting my needs. I ask God to reward the donor accordingly for the generosity, and I will do what I can on my end to make the donor proud, God willing.