Seven Questions with Alumna Elizabeth Agneta

Elizabeth Agneta (CGS’13 & CAS’15) used the College of General Studies as a foundation to launch a career in medicine. We caught up with Elizabeth in her third year of medical school to talk about what her time at CGS meant to her and how it has shaped her life.

Elizabeth Agneta during her White Coat Ceremony on her first day of medical school.

What have you been doing since you graduated from BU?

After graduating from BU, I realized I needed more research experience before medical school so I worked in a clinic doing research for about a half a year. The research was specifically about radiology. Then, I got a job at a small pharmaceutical company where we ran oncology trials. Now I am currently in my third year at Boston University’s School of Medicine.

Agneta pretending to be a patient for a simulated trauma training in medical school.

Why did you choose that pathway?

I knew that I wanted to get into medicine and there are three ways to get involved in this field. The first way is lab research which is about using test tubes and experiments. The second is working at a hospital, which is all about patient care. The last method is clinical testing where it is a mixture of lab research and interacting with people. It is where trials are run for new treatments and for me, that is rewarding.

How did your time at CGS help prepare you for what came after graduation?

CGS gave me a broad liberal arts foundation which can be applied to any field and it helped me prepare to transition to work outside of CGS in two ways. One lesson was about communication. I loved how the rhetoric course was not just about writing an argument but it also included public speaking and debate. I used my communication skills in other courses both in CGS and CAS and the Capstone project.

The second lesson was how to work in small groups because after continuing your formal education there is less large group learning. I learned how to work with people who have diverse backgrounds and how to learn from them. In CGS, there are all different majors learning together and everyone has a different perspective. This program allows students to experience a small liberal arts college but also have the resources of a major university available to them. The Capstone project sums up the two lessons well, as I had to work in a small group and there was an oral defense.

Agneta’s Capstone team outside of CGS.

What are your goals and aspirations for your career?

For my doctor pathway, my goal is to listen and heal patients as people. I also love working with kids, so I want to do my residency in pediatrics or family medicine. In addition, I am interested in education in two ways – teaching future medical students and educating patients. I want to share what I learn with my patients so they can understand their health too.

What extracurriculars, internships, or other out of the classroom experiences were most valuable to you as a CGS student?

There were so many fun activities that I did during my time at BU, like participate in the BU Ballroom Dance club as well as help with the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. My most valuable experiences would be my leadership roles as I’ve built off of those in my career. For example, I was a Dean’s Host which led to my job as a student orientation advisor for CGS and becoming an international peer mentor. These roles helped me prepare to work in clinical research and being a graduate medical student.

What was your favorite part about your CGS experience?

This is hard to pick for me as there were so many favorite aspects of the CGS experience. If I had to choose, I would choose studying abroad in London freshman year. I was in London in the summer of 2012 which was when they hosted the Olympics! The experience further expanded my relationship with my classmates and my professors. I would have never met these people unless it was for this program because they were in different majors. I am still friends with them today. The faculty never made it seem like I was just a number in the class because they knew our names and wanted to get to know us as people. One time in London, our professors invited us for tea and food before we went to see a play together. Also, studying abroad made it more of a hands-on experience as we had to use the city as our classroom. I remember seeing this tiny picture of a painting in my textbook, but then seeing it in person in London, it took up the entire wall! It was way more meaningful to be able to go to museums, see plays, and learn outside of the classroom. It also helped that I got to stay in a beautiful place where you could literally throw a rock and it would land in Kensington Gardens, a gorgeous park.

If you could give one piece of advice to current CGS students, what would you say?

I would say take every opportunity inside or outside of school to learn. Grab the chance even if you don’t necessarily like the subject, but approach it in the way that you would approach a subject that you were passionate about. Being enthusiastic makes learning it more enjoyable and you get more out of the experience. People become impressed with the breadth of knowledge you will gain and it makes you more of a well-rounded person.

— Compiled by Natalie Seara