Danica Vendiola, an extraordinary MCB honors student, knew she wanted to major in MCB after seeing her sister's experience in the major: “With my mom being a nurse, my experiences volunteering at a hospital and seeing my sister’s journey to medical school, I knew I wanted to pursue MCB and medicine". Looking back at her years in the major, she admits her favorite MCB course was MCB 150. The transition from high school to college was a challenge for her and MCB 150 provided her first introduction to college-level courses and exams. She loves looking back to that class and realizing how much she has grown, learned and how her standards for studying have been shaped. In her own words: “there’s beauty in the struggle”.
Danica has taken advantage of many opportunities during her time at the University of Illinois. She is the president of the MCB Leaders, a member of multiple pre-health student organizations, part of the executive board for the Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity and an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Daniel Llano's laboratory where she traces electrical signals in the motor cortex of mice. In addition, thanks to the MCB Mentoring Program she was able to participate in a summer internship at Vanderbilt University. In this internship, she had the opportunity to shadow in the pediatric emergency and internal medicine departments: “It was an amazing experience and it gave me a reality check. There is this facade of medicine but this experience taught me that as a physician you are helping people through their various struggle and helping them navigate it.” She is also a resident assistant, a job that she believes will help her in medical school: "By being an RA I talk to people of many different backgrounds and cultures and I need them to be able to trust me. There have been moments where I've had to make in the moment decisions and solve conflicts. These are skills that I will definitely use while being a physician".
Danica has great words of wisdom for incoming students: "Take a step back and honestly ask yourself if you are using your time wisely. Don’t let the fear of failing get to you either. Part of the journey is experiencing failure and if you don’t how are you going to grow as a student or person? What is the point of college then? Also, don’t worry about other people’s paths, just because someone is doing something a certain way, doesn't mean you have to do it as well. You have to do you and what is best for you. Finally, make sure you take care of yourself. There have been times when I’ve become stagnant because I’ve been so worried about things but it is important that you do things that are good for your physical and mental health. It is all about balance."