Rachel Fong, Co-Founder and President of BDC Society on Society Vision and Life as a BDC Student
Rachel Fong is currently a fourth-year student of the first accelerated cohort of the Biomedical Discovery & Commercialization (BDC) program. As co-founder and president of the BDC Society (BDCS), Rachel acts as a liaison between faculty and BDC students, while proactively pursuing what is best for the students. In this interview, Rachel elaborates on the BDCS and her perspective on the life as a BDC student.
SHOWCASE: Could you start by telling us a bit more about the BDC Society in terms of its mission, value, and vision with respect to both the BDC student community and beyond?
RACHEL: The BDCS is a university recognized student group that is dedicated to enhancing personal and academic growth of students in the BDC program. Being in a new program that is rapidly evolving presents challenges for both faculty and students. The BDCS felt that we needed to form a student community rather than just addressing needs. So this included planning events for professional development, socializing, and more.
Currently, we have been focusing on meeting the primary needs of the BDC students. Nevertheless, here are a few things that the BDCS will work towards in the future:
- Encouraging and training students to be professional leaders in the McMaster and local community,
- Increasing student participation in cultural, educational and social activities, and
- Raising awareness on potential career opportunities and trends in the world of health care, pharmaceuticals, and the life sciences.
Although the BDCS is currently in its early stages, I can see it becoming something of great value for both current students and future alumni.
Tell us more about what the BDC Society has done, and about some of the exciting events to come.
One of the really exciting things that is currently happening is a series of events focused on community and professional development that Chitman Josan, the co-founder and VP Administration, proposed. The first session in January was about optimizing one’s LinkedIn profile with all of its features. A lot of good feedback was received, and I can definitely see something like this becoming an annual event. Some of the more exciting things we have in the works are a community event for de-stressing around midterm season, BDC sponsorship for attending the Biochemistry and Biomedical Science Society formal, and a workshop on practicing key interview and communication skills. The latter is especially crucial with the BDC Engage Symposium coming up – a highlight of the BDC academic year!
There are also a lot of things going on behind the scenes, including the release of official BDC merchandise, planning of fun social events at the end of the year, and more. It’s going to be an exciting Winter term!
There are a lot of students who are interested in the program; tell us a bit more about your typical week as a fourth-year BDC student.
A big part of the fourth-year BDC student life is the senior research thesis. Every spare moment I have (within reasonable hours) is spent in the lab. I am fortunate enough to be working in a lab that allows me to be independent and have my own project. I can work around my own hours and not have to worry about coordinating with a mentor. I absolutely love science, and it definitely helps that the Wright lab is so welcoming and helpful.
I have classes with the other fourth-year students, which is nice since I don’t get to see them as often as I am used to. The marketing course in the BDC curriculum is interesting since it gives us a chance to experience what it’s like to prepare a real marketing plan. We have to go out and meet real clients and design strategies that will benefit them. Then, there is the BiomedDC 4B03 course that focuses on the cutting-edge research at McMaster and its potential to be commercialized. We get to work with senior research students and learn about all the cool science.
If I am not running around doing experiments in the Wright/Surette lab, or having meetings for my marketing and/or BDC courses, then I am doing stuff for the BDCS. Although it sounds busy, the key is balance and time management!
What aspect of the BDC program do you enjoy the most, and what advice would you give to future BDC students?
There is no other program like the BDC program. It’s unique, innovative, interdisciplinary, and rare. The small class sizes give us the freedom to really tailor our education. Aside from the world-class faculty members that you get to work with on a daily basis that genuinely care about student success, you have the opportunity to meet people from all kinds of educational backgrounds and explore topics that you are genuinely interested in. This program is the catalyst for developing future healthcare, life sciences, and pharmaceutical leaders. It gives you the opportunity to pursue a large variety of careers including medicine, law, research, and more.
Because this program is a third-year level entry program, the majority of students have a basic knowledge of science concepts that make it easier for us to really focus on individual learning and problem solving. Classes are fun and exciting since we get to explore topics that we are genuinely interested in.
One piece of advice that I would give to those interested in applying for this program is to take a risk. When I first heard of this program, I was very reluctant especially with how new it was. But after being here in my final year, I can safely say that I have no regrets.Student Showcase