When Faisal Masood began his journey through the bioengineering program, he wanted to explore every path available. Two key education elements guided him through to his degree and application to medical school: being mentored, and teaching others in turn.
“I started University with many academic and personal interests. Although I was very interested in cellular biology and potentially becoming a practicing clinician, I also wanted to explore engineering and design,” Masood said. He dove into a number of activities – research, clubs, and a teaching assistantship among them – while considering a myriad of possible post-graduation career paths. He realized his personal and professional pursuits needed a more unified direction.
When the bioengineering department moved into the newly remodeled Everitt Laboratory in the summer of his sophomore year, Masood instantly felt at home – and knew just where to turn for insight into directing his next steps.
“Many of my advisors have offices in Everitt, so there’s always someone to talk to in this building when I need personal or professional guidance,” he said. “The mentorship I have received from faculty in my department significantly impacted me. I will readily admit that college has been trying at times, but I have always had trusted personnel to confide in.”
In his junior year, Masood began to TA for BIOE 202, a cell and tissue engineering lab course taught by professor Karin Jensen. He quickly grew to love teaching as he prepared materials for students to perform labs, oversaw students during lab time, and ensured that students learn lab techniques safely and properly.
“Teaching this course has been one of my favorite activities as an undergraduate because I have had the opportunity to work with so many great students,” Masood said.
Masood relished the opportunities for creative problem-solving while teaching. He and fellow TA Benjamin David developed a video to teach microscope protocol when they noticed students struggling with the instruments. And when the class moved to online instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic their senior year, Masood and David worked with Jensen to find ways to make a practical lab virtual. For example, they developed a simulator of a hemocytometer, a microscope used for counting and evaluating blood cells.
Masood grew to rely on Jensen as a mentor as well as a teacher and supervisor. He credits her listening ear and steady encouragement for helping him arrive at a post-graduation destination. He will attend medical school, with the goal of practicing oncology.
“Whenever I have any problem or need life advice, Karin has become the first person that I turn to,” Masood said. “The medical school application process and interview schedule was arduous, but thanks to her support and guidance, I was able to thrive throughout the process. She always listens and provides thoughtful advice, and I hope to emulate her compassion as a physician one day.”