Konnie Guo ’19

Major: Molecular Biology and French

Profession: Medical Student

Hometown: El Cerrito, California

What are you doing now?

I am a first-year medical student at Stanford University School of Medicine. I'm currently in the preclinical part of my training. I'm mostly taking classes focused on the scientific basis of medicine and disease. I'm also part of the Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP), which provides a path for additional training in research.

How did you get there?

At Pomona, I met incredible mentors who encouraged and supported me throughout my time there and beyond. I spent three years working in the lab of Professor Fabien Jammes, who introduced me to basic science research through Pomona's Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). Professor Jammes taught me to become a more confident and independent researcher, while also inspiring me to pursue a career as a physician-scientist.

Through other opportunities like the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP), I continued to explore medicine through shadowing and clinical research. I also took two years after graduating to work as a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. I got to further develop my research skills there while also working at the exciting intersection of science and medicine.

How did Pomona prepare you?

Thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of classes at Pomona, I explored medicine from both a scientific and humanistic perspective with my majors in molecular biology and French. I learned about the molecular mechanisms underlying the cells in our body while also exploring the representation of medicine in works of French literature, such as Molière's The Imaginary Invalid.

Many of my other activities, while not directly related to medical school, guided me in a variety of ways. I enrolled in (free!) piano lessons throughout my time at Pomona with Prof. Genevieve Lee and participated in chamber music ensembles, which taught me how best to perform under pressure and work closely with a group.

Additionally, I took on several on-campus jobs as a music librarian, language partner for the Foreign Language Resource Center, and TA for introductory biology courses. I learned how to precisely balance my schedule while also becoming more drawn to teaching and academia.

Regarding the medical school application process itself, Pomona Pre-Health Advising was invaluable in making sure my application was on track, from grades and test scores to personal statements. I am very grateful for all the opportunities provided to me as a student at Pomona, which truly gave me the flexibility to prioritize and delve into all my interests.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I'll either still be in school or have just graduated. Although I haven't decided on a medical specialty yet, I hope to be in a research-focused residency program where I'll have protected time to continue my physician-scientist training. I'd eventually like to work in academic medicine where I am balancing clinical duties with research.

Any advice for current or prospective students?

Keep an open mind. Pomona is such a wonderful place to explore your interests, both academic and extracurricular. I never expected to major in French, but thanks to my interactions with the department, particularly Professor Virginie Duzer, I found myself drawn to the major.

Also, talk to your professors. One of the huge advantages of Pomona are the small classes which allow professors to get to know you as people outside of all the exams and assignments.

Finally, identify your support system. College can get tough, and whether it's a mentor or affinity group, find the people who will stick by you when you need it the most.