By Maisha Rumman
I had the pleasure of interviewing Juan Herrejon, a senior Human Biology major who will graduate this semester and head to UT Southwestern in the fall. He is a Resident Assistant, Residential Hall Study Groups Tutor, our very own 2013-14 NSC President, a recent Friar Society inductee, and a Dean’s Honored Graduate. We are here to celebrate his numerous achievements and get some advice before he graduates to bigger and better things.
How do you suggest students make the most of their four years here? What advice do you have for incoming or current students?
Get out of your comfort zone. A lot of people come here and get lost and overwhelmed—so when they find their niche, they often stay there. I feel that it’s important to get out of your niche. I was really scared when I got here first, but do things you won't forget.
Also, get to know not only your professors but also UT staff. For professors, just go to their office hours. Even if you’re not struggling, go in and just get an explanation of why you got an answer wrong on an exam or homework (even if it’s one question that you missed).
I would suggest not going to office hours before an exam when you know it’s going to be crowded. If they do research on campus, ask them about that to get the conversation started. Don’t be afraid to open up about yourself. Make sure to go consistently so they get to know your face. Invite them to luncheons and banquets (which NSC hosts) because if they feel as if you’re going out of your way to get to know them, they will reciprocate.
And last but not least, take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way and go out and look for those opportunities if they’re not available. Initially, I had trouble figuring out how I was going to pay for UT, but then I heard about being an RA. It’s very competitive but I asked around about it and got out of my comfort zone to apply for it. I applied first for the Castilian and I didn’t get it but I didn’t let that failure stop me. I applied again my second year and got the position.
What were some of your best college experiences and why?
NSC (Natural Sciences Council). It’s the best college experience that I’ve had. It has opened up opportunities that I didn’t know existed, especially the ones that let me get involved in academic experiences.
Through NSC, I’ve been able to be a part of making the BSA (Bachelor of Science and Arts) possible for students. Dr. Kopp reached out to me to help get the degree approved because it faced a lot of opposition initially with the Faculty Council and Board of Regents. They needed to know why it mattered, and the answer is that it’s what the students want.
We were able to collect 12,000 signatures in a little over a week from students in support of the BSA, even though this was during the extremely busy last two weeks of the spring semester. Now, up to 70% of current and incoming students are opting to switch to the BSA degree. I’m privileged to say I was part of the movement, and I’ve learned a lot about administration while expanding my network with UT faculty and staff.
What makes you Juan in a Million?
I sleep 8 hours a night, not a lot of college students do that.
What are some regrets you have about college?
I have two—not doing study abroad and also using my one time exception Q-drop for social dance.
If you could eat a million pounds of something, what would it be?
What are your plans for the future?
I will be attending UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in the fall and pursuing a five year MD/MBA dual degree. Once I graduate from medical school I want to use my degree in business to open my own practice, ideally having my own medical center. I also want to start a nonprofit for mobile clinics, which will consist of groups of doctors that gather medical supplies and travel around Texas and the underserved areas around the US to provide basic care for free.
Another one of my career goals is to launch a program in elementary school targeting obesity. Something like the DARE program but for obesity because 2 in 3 Americans are overweight or obese. My own family has been affected by diabetes and I know that obesity is a risk factor for diabetes.
The last goal of mine is to become involved in educational policy for medical schools. Ultimately, I want to be a Dean of a medical school while keeping my practice because I want to be involved in the educational experience of medical students.
How have your plans changed since freshman year?
It hasn’t changed as far my goals to be a pre-med and a doctor. However, my experiences with NSC have influenced my decision to pursue an MBA. Through NSC, I’ve planned many events and got a peek into the administrative processes through my conversations with the deans and staff. I want to marry administration with medicine in order to own my own practice, since owning a practice and leading an organization demand similar skill sets. I used to just want to be a doctor, but now I want to shape medical education as well by being an administrator.
If you had one more year in NSC, what would you do?
I would continue the work I started with the College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committee (CTBAC), including creating the unofficial guide to CNS, changing the School of Human Ecology degree plans, and CNS 101. The unofficial guide is a project I started this semester that I’m leaving in the hands of NSC. It will be an online portal that will be sent to all CNS students. It’s exactly what it sounds like—a survival guide for the College of Natural Sciences.
It will include information for freshman that may not be available to certain groups because they didn’t have a mentor, a family member that’s been to college, or a high school that gave them resources that could shed light on the college experience. A resource like this guide could level the playing field for students and put everybody on the same page.