Undergraduate Award Winner: Allison Makovec

Photo of Allison Makovec
Allison Makovec in front of Walter Library during a Hematology, Oncology, and Transplantation Division Summer Internship outing; photo taken by Sydney Tape.

Allison Makovec, a recipient of the 2023 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award, enjoys being “academically diverse.” Double majoring in biology, society & environment and anthropology, she is using her well-rounded skill set to engage in medical research. “The College of Liberal Arts has allowed me to engage in aspects of both science and society,” she says.

What brought you to the University of Minnesota and how did you end up choosing your majors?

I chose the U of M based on its amazing research opportunities. Since the U of M is a top public research university, as someone interested in medicine/medical research, it was an easy choice for me to come here. 

In the last three years, I have worked in several research laboratories on campus, studying everything from DNA-informed fruit breeding to clinical oncology! Just as I have diversified my research, I also wanted to keep a balance of the natural and social sciences in my academic career. For that reason, I decided to choose the biology, society & environment major as well as anthropology. These CLA majors will prepare me for both the scientific and sociocultural competencies needed to have a successful career in medicine. 

Which CLA class or professor has had the biggest impact on you? Why?

During my second year at the U of M, I took a Grand Challenge Curriculum (GCC) course focused on seeking solutions to global health issues. In this course, working with a small group, I was able to develop a pilot project for a technological intervention that would help with health-related anxieties for Somali women in the Twin Cities. 

The professors in the class fully supported our project, and one even reached out to us as the course came to an end and suggested we apply for grant money to continue the project. We decided to go for it and ended up receiving funding through the Acara Innovation Fellowship to pilot our project in the community for a year. This project, as well as other activities and experiences, led me to receiving the President’s Student Leadership and Service Award. The experience as a whole gave me new perspectives on healthcare and the importance of cultural competence. Needless to say, I highly recommend any GCC course!

What relevant experiences have you had outside of the classroom to enhance your studies? How have they influenced your career goals?

Last summer I took part in the Hematology, Oncology, and Transplantation (HOT) Division Summer Internship Program through the U of M Department of Medicine. This experience allowed me to shadow physicians, complete wet lab work, learn about experimental design, and even try grant writing. This deep dive into the balance of research and clinical work shifted my career goals; I currently hope to attend an MD/PhD program where I can continue learning medicine from multiple perspectives.

What has been your favorite part of your experience with your department and within your majors?

My favorite part of the biology, society & environment (BSE) major is how academically diverse it is. In this major, I have taken courses like organic chemistry and physics while also taking anthropology and ethics courses. 

However, medical school prerequisites required me to engage with more natural science courses like biology and chemistry, so I balanced this out by adding an anthropology major. Overall, through the combination of these two majors, the College of Liberal Arts has allowed me to engage in aspects of both science and society!

What's next on the horizon?

This upcoming summer, I will be an intern in the Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the U of M. I’m going to be taking part in the Cancer Research, Education and Training (CREATE) Program and pre-Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) within this internship. In the next year, I plan on applying to MD/PhD programs to hopefully continue studying medicine as well as cancer biology. When I’m not preparing my application, I will be leading my newly established student group “Yogis in STEM” and hiking around at national parks!

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