First-year student Brandon Chou has always had a basic plan for his future.
He is fascinated by the study of diseases and knew he wanted to pursue a career in the medical field even as a kid. This goal came as no surprise to his family—both of Chou’s parents are physicians with different specialties, so Chou had an awareness of the possibilities for his own interests growing up.
“My parents are both in medicine. My dad is a physician and my mom is a pharmacist. There were days when I would go to work with them. Sometimes I would see the reactions of people they had helped and that made me think I wanted that for myself,” says Chou.
His high school biology classes continued to inspire him. And so did the Summer Scholars pre-college program at Notre Dame.
As a rising high school junior, Chou attended the Global Health track in the Summer Scholars program. The experience of living on campus and learning from Notre Dame professors allowed him to explore academics at the college level and gave him a sense of what it would be like to attend a major research university.
“While the material proved fascinating, the learning environment enthralled me the most. The manner in which Professor Robichaud interacted with her student-helpers, current Notre Dame students at the time, challenged my preconceived notions about faculty/student interactions and stood in contrast to my own experiences,” says Chou. “Yes, my teachers know who I am and where I sit in class, but the synergy that I witnessed during the Global Health program was unlike any type of mentor relationship I have ever experienced.”
Once Chou engaged with Notre Dame professors and learned about the many research opportunities open to undergraduates, he could picture himself attending.
“Notre Dame became my top option...I took the global health class and saw that, OK, I can see myself learning these things here,” says Chou.
Now, Chou is an intended biological sciences major at Notre Dame. In his first semester, he took his first biological sciences course, Biology I: Big Questions, which included a lab, and through which he was able to explore the topics of cancer and human evolution. Introductory biology courses are divided into several modules, all of which are focused on a certain topic. Each student completes two modules in their first semester, allowing them to dive deeply into specific areas of biology. (Learn more about biological sciences courses.)
Throughout his first semester, Chou has also learned that Notre Dame excels at helping students discern their passions and future careers.
“The science professors have had several info. nights in Jordan [Hall of Science], where they allow students to come talk to them about classes and research,” says Chou. He hopes to get involved in some form of cellular research, cancer research, or malaria research while at Notre Dame.
Outside of academics, Chou pursues his interests through the Notre Dame Minority Pre-Med Society and other science clubs. He played tennis in high school and is now a member of the club tennis team at Notre Dame. He has also made friends in his residence hall, O’Neill Family Hall. He and his dorm mate, Austin Chang, who is from Englewood, New Jersey, try to play ping pong in the basement of O’Neill every night to decompress.
Click the video above to hear more from Brandon Chou ’23 and learn more about academics at Notre Dame here.