Sisy Chen '25 is a neuroscience and behavior major in the College of Science who hails from Chicago, IL.
We asked Chen to give us the details on her major, student government, and the student experience. Below, she answers our questions about all things Notre Dame.
How did you choose your major and minor?
The brain has always fascinated me—it is the control center of the human body and is what enables us to make decisions, create, and learn. Since neuroscience is such an interdisciplinary field and allows for really cool intersections with math, medicine, ethics, and philosophy, I thought that the major would be a great fit for my own academic interests and goals. In addition, the neuroscience community at Notre Dame is just incredible—everyone is super collaborative and willing to help out one another.
I chose my data science minor after taking MATH 20480 and learning about the significance of computer science in modeling biological processes. Data science has become increasingly prominent in the neuroscience field, and I’m excited to see how my major and minor will bridge together in the next few years.
What has been your favorite class at ND so far, and why?
My favorite class at Notre Dame thus far has probably been MATH 20480: Introduction to Dynamical Systems, taught by Professor Lim! The class was a fusion of math and biology, and I really enjoyed learning about how math could be applied to model ecological and epidemiological processes. In addition, the class was pretty small so I felt very comfortable asking questions and it was fun to work together for a final project at the end of the semester.
What clubs/organizations are you involved in and what do you enjoy about them?
On campus, I’m involved in student government as the director of health and wellness! After spending my freshman year involved in FUEL (First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership), I understood the important role that Student Government plays in student life on campus.
Specifically, my department will be working closely with the University Counseling Center, Univeristy Health Services, RecSports, and McWell to create a culture of care on campus and expand accessibility to physical and mental health resources. By doing so, I hope to increase the wellbeing of students on campus and combat the stigma surrounding mental health on college campuses.
I’m also involved in ND’s Student Policy Network (SPN), which organizes teams of students to work on policy research and advocacy projects with external partner organizations.
For example, during my fall semester, I had the opportunity to research policy solutions to expand infant metabolic formula coverage in the state of Indiana. At the end of the semester, our team traveled to Indianapolis and presented our findings to the Indiana Department of Health. Through SPN, I’ve been able to explore my passions in the field of health policy, which is something that I hope to pursue in my future career.
Have you studied abroad or do you plan to?
I’m planning to study abroad for three weeks this summer in South Africa! During these three weeks, I will be learning about the psychology of racism through cultural, historical, and social lenses with Professor Anré Venter.
One of my main goals is to explore how culture and social context affects thought processes and attitudes. As a neuroscience major and aspiring physician, I believe that understanding the psychosocial implications of racism and related negative attitudes will allow me to deepen my understanding of the effects of institutionalized racism, which is deeply embedded into the American health care system.
In addition, I hope to increase my cross-cultural awareness and spend my summer exploring a new country!
What will you be doing for your Summer Service Learning Program this summer?
This summer, I’m partaking in ND’s Summer Service Learning Program at Matthew 25 Health and Care, which offers free medical care to those who are uninsured. I really wanted to spend my summer immersing myself to give back to the community and stand in solidarity with those on the margins.
Throughout the summer, I’ve been able to hear the stories of countless patients who come to the clinic, ranging from new immigrants adjusting to life in the U.S. to individuals who had recently gone through changes in their employment, which subsequently affected their health insurance.
Coming from a family of immigrants, I remember facing similar struggles with obtaining reliable health insurance and helping translate for my parents at doctor’s appointments. By hearing these individual stories from patients at the clinic, I’ve developed a deeper sense of my vocational identity, and hope to become a physician and public health policy maker in the future.
By reforming the healthcare system and making healthcare accessible to all, regardless of immigration or socioeconomic status, I hope to make a difference in the lives of others and bridge the gap in health disparities.
Tell us something not everyone knows about you.
I’m a very creative person and love watercolor painting, sewing, and crocheting! Painting and crocheting have been some of my favorite ways to de-stress and I love being able to create with my hands.
- During the last Blue-Gold football game, I managed to win free season tickets by kicking a field goal during halftime!
- During this past spring break, I went on an Outward Bound dog sledding trip in Minnesota with fellow ND Scholars, where we camped and learned survival skills for one week in below freezing temperatures and deep snow.
What are some items on your ND bucket list?
- Take an arts class (either pottery, drawing, or painting)
- Compete in the Fisher Regatta
- Present research at a conference
Do you have any advice for prospective ND students?
I can truly say that Notre Dame is a very special place with the most incredible people. The dorm community, football weekends, and supportive professors here at Notre Dame have made it feel like home. While applying to college can be very daunting, stay true to yourself and determine ways that the programs offered at ND can match your unique interests and goals!
My journey to Notre Dame wasn’t linear—I had attended public school in Chicago for my entire life and I was nervous about the transition to a private Catholic school. When making my college decision, I struggled to choose between different schools but upon visiting Notre Dame, the campus had a special quality that was unmatched by any other school.
Choosing to attend ND has been one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. As Lou Holtz put it, “You don’t go to Notre Dame to learn something; you go to Notre Dame to be somebody.”