By: Ixchel Urbano, SDSU Chapter Member
Meet Mia Jeffris, the Co-President of the University of California, San Diego WSS Chapter! Mia is a second year bioengineering, bioinformatics major. Her career goals tend to change frequently as she learns more about the different paths she can take in her field, but as of right now Mia is interested in using bioinformatics approaches for the detection and treatment of cancer. This year, WSS at UCSD has been holding lots of Q&A panels with women in the STEM industry and academia, so hearing from them during these events has been super helpful in weighing out her options for the future! Aside from her interest in science Mia maintains a notebook filled with her own vegan and gluten-free baking recipes!
Mia joined WSS during her first year at UCSD, when the chapter was still very new. She knew that she wanted to help expand the reach of this organization at UCSD. Mia often felt discouraged and isolated at times in her own courses and knew several other underrepresented folks in STEM who were experiencing the same thing. The WSS mission inspired her to work to lessen this effect and amplify feelings of self-confidence and excitement for all STEM students!
As Mia continues to be a part of WSS, she is always happy to have a supportive, collaborative community of motivated individuals around her! Mia said all the friends she has made through WSS are incredibly driven to promote the academic and professional success of underrepresented groups in STEM. She believes that the WSS support system not only allows her to have a more successful college career but creates a foundation to similarly motivate many other individuals at UCSD as well. Mia has taken her love for WSS to the next level by actively serving as Co-President of her chapter, and is also involved in many other extracurriculars on her campus!
Since Mia’s first year, she has helped out as an undergraduate research assistant in several labs on her campus and has worked as a wilderness guide for UCSD’s Outback Adventures. Mia is very grateful to have had these opportunities to develop her interests and skills outside of her coursework. WSS pushes Mia to be the best version of herself, both academically and outside of the classroom, and it has helped strengthen her professional, interpersonal and leadership skills, all of which have been very helpful in these and other extracurricular activities! UCSD has incredible undergraduate research opportunities, and Mia believes that WSS has definitely helped boost her confidence in pursuing projects and ideas that she is passionate about!
As Mia’s second year is now more than halfway over, she said the best piece of advice she can give to her WSS community advice is to stay curious and push yourself into opportunities that spark your excitement, even if they are unfamiliar or a bit daunting! Before Mia came to UCSD, she had absolutely zero experience with coding and computer science. Now, as a bioinformatics major, she cannot get enough of it! Prior to college, it never really crossed her mind that she could be good at programming. Although she was always curious and excited by the idea, she shied away from opportunities to learn to code because she felt that it was already too late for her to get into it. Even though Mia was unsure of her ability to develop these skills at first, she is so glad that she decided to pursue a bioinformatics degree in college and would not want to be in any other field. It is never too late to discover something that you are really passionate about, even if you have never considered it before!
The Women in Science Society is so proud of Mia for stepping out of her comfort zone and pursuing bioinformatics. We know she will do amazing things with her degree and look forward to seeing how she will continue to grow her Chapter of WSS as Co-President!