Ellaine Chou, B.S. '20

Ellaine Chou

Hometown: Palo Alto, CA
BME Degree Program: Undergraduate

Why Cornell?
Cornell felt like the perfect sized school. Not too small and not too big, enabling me to branch out of my major but also stay intimate with my major.

Why BME?
I was excited by how new the major was, and by the thought of forging my own path since nothing is yet set in stone for this new field.

How did you decide on your BME concentration Biomedical Imaging and Instrumentation (BMII)?
I also major in computer science, so chose BMII since it is the concentration that aligns with my computer science interests and heavily utilizes those skill sets.

What do you think are some of the most important skills you’ve learned while pursuing this major?
Given how new the major and the field is, it had been crucial for me to stay open-minded, vigilant, and true to myself.

What are some of the skills you think someone should possess in order to do well in this major?
Be a curious and proactive learner.

What advice might you give other students considering BME?
Stay open-minded! It is okay to be afraid but be courageous and bold. There is no place like college to take a leap of faith. 

Any interests outside of or in relationship to your scholarship? 
I worked at Johnson & Johnson. I wanted healthcare industry experience, and where better than at one of the largest healthcare companies? I felt that a summer internship was too short to fully experience working in such a large field, especially at a company like Johnson & Johnson, and decided to go for a six month co-op instead. There, I worked in the R&D Consumer sector supporting their technologies, and developing new technologies. I chose to do a business analyst position, which is quite the opposite direction of where most undergraduate engineers would go in the industry. As a biomedical engineer, I wanted to understand and experience how the science that I have worked so diligently with translate to the everyday society. Being a business analyst, I was not only able to communicate my passion for healthcare technology, but also to identify needs and explore engineering solutions as I went. Despite being titled as a business analyst, I designed and prototyped engineering solutions, which I am incredibly grateful that my work environment allowed me to do. I am also a Rawlings Research Scholar and a volleyball enthusiast.

What stands out to you about your Cornell BME experience so far and why?
My extensive social and professional network. It is astonishing sometimes realizing how well-connected everyone is within BME.

What’s the next step for you and who or what has led you in this direction?
I'll be interning at Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, a non-profit with exciting and bold human science agenda! It is the cumulative support from everyone in my non-linear academic pursuits that led me to this non-profit internship.

Favorite quote that helps inspire you in your work/life?
“It’s the job that’s never started as takes the longest to finish.” --Samwise Gamgee in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

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