The decision to come to Western Kentucky University was a “no-brainer” according to Tristan Skipworth, a senior from Scottsville who graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry on Dec. 9.
“The biochemistry degree at WKU includes the most coursework to prepare for the MCAT exam,” Skipworth explained. “I chose WKU because I knew it would give me the best undergraduate experience and prepare me for success better than any university in the state.”
From a young age, Skipworth said he knew he wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor.
“My grandmother is and will forever be the most influential person in my life, and I was destroyed when she was diagnosed with cancer. Her home was turned upside down. Watching her battle the disease while developing a personal relationship with his doctors made me realize that I’m supposed to be a doctor,” Skipworth said.
He was so sure of that calling that he launched his medical career in his senior year of high school by earning an EMT license and starting to work in emergency medical services after graduation. secondary.
“I have worked with the EMS Medical Center in Bowling Green as well as the Allen County Ambulance Service in Scottsville. My patients have taught me countless lessons, but the most important thing is knowing how to listen even in high stress situations,” Skipworth said.
Working as an EMT propelled Skipworth on his journey to becoming a doctor. He said it provided him with invaluable clinical experiences that will stay with him for the rest of his medical career. Although he has had the opportunity to care for and interact with patients and their families during their happiest occasions, such as the delivery of a new baby, and their saddest, when loved ones pass away, he said there was always something missing.
“Although being an EMT allows me to interact with patients, it does not provide me with everything I seek in a career in medicine. I want to provide definitive care to my patients, develop lasting relationships with them, be the leading the healthcare team and bringing new and innovative treatments to my patients,” Skipworth said.
Skipworth learned vital skills in his field as an EMT while also working as a research assistant in the organic chemistry lab of Professor Rui Zhang in WKU’s Department of Chemistry. He started in Dr. Zhang’s lab in his second year and has since worked his way up to senior member. He said his research experiences at WKU offered a completely different side to academia; an experience he would not have had the privilege of living elsewhere.
“The undergraduate research opportunities at WKU are endless, and the professors here really want you to be involved,” Skipworth said.
The goal of Skipworth’s research is to find a more efficient catalyst for oxidation reactions.
“In nature, the Cytochrome P450 enzyme family closely resembles the catalysts we make in the lab,” Skipworth said. “It is important to study because these catalysts can be used to manufacture pharmaceuticals and chemicals. They can remove pollutants better than the catalysts currently used in industry.
Participating in hands-on research as an undergraduate student and receiving encouragement from faculty and staff along the way had a monumental impact on Skipworth’s academic success.
“Dr. Zhang always pushed and encouraged me throughout my undergraduate career. He enabled me to accomplish so much more than I thought possible in four years while broadening my horizons by showing me how point research can be interesting,” Skipworth said.
His participation in undergraduate research helped Skipworth discover his passion for research and encouraged him to shape the future goals of the practice of medicine at a large teaching hospital, where research is part of the job.
“Before participating in research at WKU, I was interested in practicing medicine outside of a large teaching hospital. Research is now very important to me and I currently do not see myself practicing outside of a hospital. academic,” Skipworth said.
According to Skipworth, the encouragement from the faculty and staff of the WKU Chemistry Department took many forms and was a highlight of his experience at WKU.
“Everyone in the department strives to make their students feel at home. I always felt welcome to talk to my teachers about course content, my future goals, and life in general. Every time I see one of my teachers in the room, they make it a point to interact,” Skipworth said.
After graduation, Skipworth plans to continue her research in Dr. Zhang’s lab during the spring semester. He will also continue his work as an EMT with the Medical Center and Allen County throughout the summer until he begins medical school at Kentucky Medical University. next fall.
For more information about majoring in biochemistry at WKU, visit www.wku.edu/chemistry.
#WKUGrad Series: As part of our #WKUGrad series, articles about graduating students are shared in the weeks leading up to fall recognition ceremonies. See all their stories at https://www.wku.edu/news/articles/index.php?view=default&categoryid=799&multinewsid=187
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