Faiz Kabbinavar (Biological Sciences, BS and History & Philosophy of Science, BA '15)
Serving as an Undergraduate Mentor through the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) was an invaluable experience. I began working with the OUR in my junior year after completing the Summer Undergraduate Research Award (SURA) in 2013. I have a very strong interest in scientific research, so freshman year I joined Dr. Kara Bernstein's laboratory at the Hillman Cancer Center, where, in the ensuing four years, I have been able to publish multiple manuscripts and present at symposia around the geographic region.
I wanted to give back to those around me and help them become successful in their academic careers. Mentoring left such a profound impact on my academic career at the University of Pittsburgh simply because it was a method for me to give back to students at both the University and also the Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy. The experience taught me much more than many courses could, as I never could have been taught how to speak and listen to students, coordinate events with other mentors, and serve as a resource to answer questions about finding higher level academic pursuits. It was a humbling experience that brought the University theme of advanced education really into focus.
Moreover, the Undergraduate Mentor program allowed me to work very closely with other mentors in addition to the OUR staff. This was a major benefit to my Pitt experience because I was able to learn so much about other students who were steadily becoming experts in their fields of research. In particular, this was especially interesting because the Undergraduate Mentors came from various academic disciplines, like literature, economics, and medicine. The mentor program brought together some of the University's best students who participated in OUR programs, and it really became a special opportunity to promote advanced academic work. If given the opportunity, I wouldn’t change anything at all!