My name is Sami Rafeedie and I’m a third year Bioengineering major. I am from Lancaster, California, and I have truly loved my time at UCLA, especially my time spent completing my research in the lab.
I came into UCLA as someone without an ounce of experience in a laboratory, which was a significant barrier to my goal of eventually contributing to cancer research after college. I still remember being in my first Chemistry laboratory class and being so stressed beyond belief just being in the lab space that I would want to run out of the room. For a long time during that class, I really began to question if I was cut out for the career I desired. Thankfully, that was where research came in.
I was first introduced to research through the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), which is a club specifically for bioengineering majors and other individuals simply interested in the field. BMES established a new technical project called Cell Team that was designed to help first and second year students get comfortable in the lab environment and learn various research techniques. I am so grateful that I joined the project and I can safely say that one of the greatest aspects about it was the fact that it was run by upperclassmen in my major: they were so incredibly patient and helpful in making me feel less anxious and be in a better headspace to learn the techniques. It was through the technical project and my mentors there that I felt like I was ready to join a research lab that was completing work I was passionate about. Over time, I was able to find a lab in the Integrative Biology and Physiology Department that was conducting cancer research. After meeting with a PhD student of the lab and clicking during our chats, I was
able to join and gain a mentor that has aided me in gaining technical skills and in an even greater way, has helped me grow as a person.
I knew that UCLA was a research institution coming in, but I could have never predicted how close UCLA would get me to my dreams of contributing to cancer research, especially so early on in my career. While research is tough, each hour I have put in has been so fulfilling, especially when I get to see all of my work displayed in the quarterly research update presentations I give to the other members of my lab. I am truly looking forward to seeing all of the progress UCLA will continue to make as an institution as well as all of the contributions that you, a member of the new Class of 2024, will make during your time here!
Stay safe and go Bruins!