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ARCS Illinois Scholar Describes Impact of Award

Posted on Monday, June 24, 2019

On June 13, we hosted our Annual Meeting at The Fortnightly in Chicago. Members and guests enjoyed a presentation by ARCS Illinois scholar Jessica Saw, who described her research at University of Illinois and the impact her award has had on both her work and her personal life.

"ARCS has provided me with not only financial support, but with emotional and personal support. Financially, it has allowed me to enroll in a medical school review course that has inspired me to see medicine in a completely unique and holistic perspective. I also was able to purchase a very large monitor and a new laptop with extra graphics and computational capacity, so I can analyze my microscope images and my gene sequencing results. I’m still getting used to how my computer never crashes after working with all of these large files!!! Additionally, I am saving some of the funds for when I apply to residency programs after medical school, an expensive process that involves many fees and interview flights! These are just a few of the items that ARCS funding has helped me with.

The ARCS funding also allowed me to take care of myself emotionally. I was a Piano Performance and Neuroscience major at Oberlin College & Conservatory of Music.  Throughout college and medical school, I always had access to a good piano. Although I never played at the conservatory level post-graduation, I did at least get to be close to music. My PhD years were my first years not having regular access to a piano and I did not expect it to be so difficult. Thus, when a deal on a 1937 Steinway came up, I was able to purchase it with my funds. It’s the best “therapy” anyone could ask for, and I am so happy to be able to go to my piano after a frustrating day and come back home to my musical roots.

Finally, ARCS has opened up a new community for me, one that is supportive of me, both academically and personally. Before ARCS, scholarship funding committees were a black box. But now I know that they can be made of strong, accomplished and motivated women. A special shout out to the ARCS members in Champaign, who came to the hospital and sent me cards when I had to stay five nights in the hospital for a cat bite! It is a no brainer now that one day I, too, will support and give back to other young scholars. The impact on me has been immense, and I’m looking forward to paying it forward in the future!"