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Student Snapshot: Irem Ozturk ’22

Irem Ozturk

At age 16, Irem Ozturk ’22 left her home in Turkey to attend school overseas and learn English. As an international student at Dickinson, she’s involved in an array of campus groups and organizations, including her work as a sports-medicine assistant, an area of professional interest. She’s conducted student-faculty research on cancer at Dickinson and interned through MedStar Health and Atlantic Health Systems. Below, she discusses her transformative First-year Seminar, the many life lessons she’s learned through her time at Dickinson and the friends and mentors she’s discovered along the way.

Hometown:

Istanbul, Turkey.

Majors:

Biology and neuroscience; health-studies certificate.

Clubs and organizations:

Athletics department (sports medicine student-assistant), Red Devils Sports Network, biology tutor, Liberty Caps Society (tour guides), Colleges Against Cancer, student note-taker for Accessibility & Disability Services, Pi Beta Phi, Emerging Leaders Retreat, Hypnotic and Synergy dance teams and Dance Theatre Group.

Honors/scholarships/awards:

Order of Omega honors society, Women in Sports Tech Fellowship and Award, National Society of Leadership & Success and academic scholarships and research grants (Pi Beta Phi scholarship, etc.).

Best thing about my Dickinson experience:

The people. My academic advisor, my science and dance professors and my Dickinson friends have become family over the years. Last year, I met a few Dickinson alumni and former Dickinson parents who have hosted me through the pandemic and changed my life and my future for the better. I am grateful for the people our alumni, parent and faculty networks have brought to my life.

Little-known hobby/talent:

I speak Russian and Turkish!

Best thing about my major:

I love conducting research with my friends and science professors. We have created a mentorship group, a little family; we support one another, crack jokes and learn from our experiences. It was the right decision for me to pursue bio/neuro/health.

On choosing Dickinson:

I chose Dickinson for its remarkable study-abroad program and for the financial support provided to international students.

Favorite professor:

Associate Professor of Biology Mike Roberts is one of the most intelligent yet incredibly humble and caring faculty members you will meet. He loves to teach and wants his students to succeed. Mike’s passion for cancer biology and research shines through his actions to make a change via his lab and external efforts. He is a mentor and friend to his advisees. He has a great sense of humor and changes students’ and the institution’s future for the better every day.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I will work for a few years in a rigorous and competitive industry where I can utilize my past experiences and knowledge in health care, life sciences and sports med/tech. After that, I aim to attend medical school and become a sports medicine doctor to help improve athletes' health and performance.

Favorite class/learning experiences:

My First-Year Seminar, Precision Medicine, initiated my interest in individualized care. I believe in the power of using science and technology to shift from a general and vague school of treatment to a more precise evaluation of the patient and individualized interventions. This concept is applicable to various areas of health care, including oncology and sports medicine, in which I have a strong interest.

I have also enjoyed taking Biomedical Ethics, as we read impactful literature that not only changed my view on today’s practice of medicine but also my understanding of human rights, disability studies, gender equality, paternalism, and autonomy. Now I read works by remarkable philosophers who propose moving questions regarding socioeconomic inequalities, the history of women and the subjective values and pragmatic considerations of end-of-life decisions.

Proudest accomplishment so far:

Leaving home at age 16 and, now, receiving a college education in my third language. I come from a family who immigrated to multiple countries in Europe and the Middle East and spoke multiple languages—but not English.

About my internship:

As an intern at MedStar Health (2020) and at Atlantic Health Systems (2021), I had the opportunity to work with one of the best sports-medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons in the Northeast. It was an educational environment with welcoming, funny and accomplished professionals. I have built relationships with friends, mentors and sponsors who support and guide me through my journey today.

About my research:

At Dickinson’s research lab, we study the role of target genes in acute myeloid leukemia to reprogram cancerogenic cells to self-destruct. Through MedStar Health-Georgetown University, I researched the efficacy of augmented prostheses for shoulder replacements. With Stanford Pediatric Orthopedics/Sports Medicine, I will research bone health, injury prevention and mental health to create content for a product that is designed to improve the health of female athletes. I may also conduct physiology research with the lacrosse or cross country team.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

Invest your energy and attention in productive tasks without interruption; work hard, play hard if you will. Put yourself out there. Ask the right questions. Meet the right people. Read valuable literature. Surround yourself with intelligent, accomplished and welcoming individuals. Try to get firsthand exposure to different careers. Believe in yourself. Use your experiences to understand where your true passion and talents lie. Once you discover that, work toward your goal. It is not the starting point but your progress that will form your story.

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Published September 28, 2021

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