Q & A with Tarek Haggy
The interdisciplinary science major allows you to take a broader spectrum of courses before committing to a scientific program that specializes in a certain field.
Why did you decide to major in interdisciplinary science?
I originally was a biology major, but I switched to being an interdisciplinary science major because it afforded me the freedom to take classes in whatever discipline of science I wanted. This allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, taking classes in different fields like psychology or anthropology. Of course, this all still counted towards my bachelor's degree so there was no worry about pushing back graduation when trying out different science courses.
What was one of your favorite classes in your major?
My favorite class in my major was Biology of Drugs. Since I am an aspiring physician, it was very interesting to get an early introduction into different classes of drugs and their mechanisms. It was also pretty relatable in that we went over different types of drugs that we use in our everyday lives, from chocolate to caffeine.
Do you have a favorite professor?
I had a great experience with several professors but my favorite was my organic chemistry professor, Dr. Gevork Minaskanian (Dr. G). It's no secret that organic chemistry is a tough course, however, Dr. G provides a way for all his students to succeed. The thing I liked the most about his class is how he constantly reaffirmed that every single one of us had the capability to succeed, as long as we put our minds to it. Dr. G used himself as an example, telling us the story of how he went from failing general chemistry to eventually becoming an organic chemistry professor and successful medicinal chemist.
Can you tell us about your research experience?
One of the best experiences I’ve had at VCU was the ability to work on an independent research project regarding a possible discrepancy in protocols/training for EMS providers. An EMS provider myself, I wanted to investigate this as no other scientific literature existed on the matter. The problem was that I had never done anything like this before, and had no clue where to start. Luckily, the university had resources that I relied on to help kick-start my journey into conducting research. I met with the director of undergraduate research, Herb Hill, and he connected me with my mentor, Dr. Susan Bodnar-Deren. Long story short, we've been hard at work creating this independent research study ever since.
Why should a student major in interdisciplinary science?
I definitely recommend choosing this major for anyone that plans to attend some sort of graduate program and has an interest in science as a whole. It allows you to take a broad spectrum of courses before committing to a program that specializes in a certain field.