April 23, 2015

Certificate Purpose

Part I (Fall 2014):

An economical blood-testing alternative. A computer program that predicts the chances of breast cancer to 99% accuracy. Robotic surgery that can treat previously inoperable tumors. These are just a few of the innovations that make me thrilled for the future of health science.

The healthcare and pharmaceutical industry is the area of focus I am looking to explore. Healthcare is a career path I have always wanted to pursue because it has a direct effect on improving people’s well being.

After years of reading various health journals and biology textbooks, in high school I was finally able to experience the magic of science first-hand- I volunteered at hospitals after school and spent several weekends and summers researching at a local university chemistry lab. My first project, titled “A Cost-effective Predictive Method for the Purification and Synthesis of Novel Sulfonamide Drugs”, focused on predicting ideal chemical structures of antibacterial drugs with a computer algorithm.

Through my research, I realized that the process of medicine moving from bench to bedside is extremely difficult, time-consuming, and costly. At the same time, I realized that many current issues facing the health care industry cannot be solved by science alone.

Through the Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate, I would like to combine my interest in the health sciences with my passion for invention. I believe that there are still many gaps in the health care field that need to be addressed, more economical ways to solve problems and treat diseases. We need to look beyond lab science for answers and perhaps expand into the growing field of technology (i.e. computer programs to partially replace costly clinical trials).


Part II (Fall 2017):

When I first enrolled in the I&E program in Fall 2014, I wanted to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to launch my own healthcare venture. Because I had experience in medical research, I had honed in on healthcare as the area that I wanted to pursue. I was extremely excited about the opportunities that I would encounter in the upcoming years; I vividly remember attending an information session about the courses that the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship department would be offering, and I couldn’t wait to take the classes, especially Kathie Amato’s class, which I believed would help me – who I considered a “non-business” person at the time – develop the critical skills to pitch my ideas effectively.

At the time, I wasn’t aware of the opportunities in entrepreneurship available outside of the world of technology. I knew about healthcare and I’d heard about all the hype surrounding technology startups, so obviously I would pursue a digital healthcare startup in the future – there was no question in my mind.

However, the Duke I&E certificate opened my eyes to all the different opportunities that existed in innovation. I signed up for Matthew Nash’s Social Innovation class as my gateway course quite honestly because it was the only relevant course that fit in my schedule, but I had not known then how much that course would impact my journey at Duke and even beyond. From his class, I learned about Social Entrepreneur Corps, which I applied to join and promptly interned at the following summer. I ended up continuing my path of discovery in social entrepreneurship through Professor Nash’s graduate course “Social Innovation Practicum”, during which I was paired to work with the nonprofit Don’t Waste Durham. Throughout my four years at Duke, my initial one-track-mindedness to pursue healthcare had evolved into a greater drive to work in the field of social innovation.

During this time, I realized that I needed to gain more technical skills that would make me a better entrepreneur in the future. Therefore, in the summer after my junior year, I gained further technical, financial modeling skills through my internship in Mergers & Acquisitions at Credit Suisse.

I am joining Credit Suisse full time starting from June 2018, and afterwards I plan to pursue a long-term career in venture capital/ venture philanthropy/ impact investing. I would love to continuously be involved with startups that aim to generate social impact. The Duke I&E certificate has not only provided me with the opportunities that led me to this stage of my life, but it has also given me the mentality of “disrupting my comfort zone” and the out-of-the-box creative thinking necessary for any problems I encounter in my career.