Name: Tiffany Seik-Ismail
Host Site: Cal Poly Pomona, Maximizing Engineering Potential
Alma Mater: Case Western Reserve University
Major: BA in Biochemistry and Psychology / MA in Bioethics
Background: As a child, I always wanted to become a doctor. I continually thought to myself, “how else could I care for someone to help them thrive?”
However, as an undergraduate, I learned about the many different ways people support one another and how the support creates little ripples that can positively benefit someone’s life. I had been so focused on academics throughout my K-12 education that I had completely forgotten about giving back to the community and helping others in the same way I had been helped. I mistakenly believed that the support should come from individuals more experienced, more senior, or who already had a degree—I didn’t think that I could make the difference.
Entering college, I made a promise to myself to get involved in student organizations, because I knew that there was still something I could do now. I joined executive boards of SpartanTHON (a dance marathon that raised money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals) and Phi Mu Fraternity. Through these organizations I gained skills in leadership, public speaking, program development, as well as in many other things. As graduation approached, I decided that I was not yet ready to be a student again for another four years, and would rather support a field that I had been participating in for the past 16 years: education.
Why I Serve: I decided to become an AmeriCorps CSU STEM VISTA during my gap year between college and medical school, because I wanted to serve a student population that was next door to where I grew up. I wanted to use all the skills I learned in my undergraduate career to care for students and help them thrive—the very reason I wanted to become a doctor. Now, at the end of my VISTA year, I am confident that I have positively impacted the students in the Maximizing Engineering Potential program at Cal Poly Pomona.
Accomplishments: I am most proud of the impact I made in our peer mentoring program. I created monthly Mentor & Mentee Events (M&M Events for short) in order to build relationships between our peer mentors and mentees, as well as to allow our Fall 2016 cohort to get to know other students in a more casual setting. I had various activities such as personality tests, minute-to-win-it games, and other team-building exercises that allowed our students to become better friends with one another. About 50 to 60 students attended each monthly event and always gave positive feedback! This also allowed me to develop my leadership and public speaking skills as I learned how to command a large and loud group of students during lunch time.
Future Plans: Starting in August 2017, I will be attending medical school at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA! I’m not sure what type of doctor I want to be yet, but I know that I will use the skills I learned as a VISTA to care for all of my patients.