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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Name: Rachael Powers

Major: Human Biology (LBC)

Minors: Global Public Health & Epidemiology, Science, Technology, Environment, and Public Policy (STEPS), Bioethics

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio


I interviewed one of my sorority sisters who is graduating this spring, Rachael Powers, about her time during MSU and how the pandemic has affected her academic pursuits. The interview was conducted through Zoom and followed COVID safety guidelines. 


What is one thing you’ll miss about MSU?

Being surrounded by my environment and being able to, every day, be in a place that is full of people that are passionate about what they do and learning how to progress in the world, and how they can do things in a better way to make changes. It’s always been really inspiring to me and I’m going to miss it because I don’t think you can get quite an experience like this anywhere else. 

Do you regret not doing anything during your 4 years?

I feel like I didn’t take advantage of the university programs enough like student council and dorm events. Branching out and meeting new people, I obviously did with Greek life and different clubs, but there are so many opportunities that are put on all the time. You also can’t even do all of them too and there’s not enough time.

What are your hobbies/extracurricular activities besides Greek life?

I’m not athletic whatsoever so nothing with sports. But, I like to hang out with friends and do a lot of fundraising for St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital for MSU’s St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn. I really like event planning and I do a lot of it for St. Judes and other charities on campus. It does take up a lot of time, but it’s something I genuinely enjoy doing and putting on. 

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

I’m currently in the application process for graduate school for Epidemiology and Global Public Health. However, I don’t know what I want to do with that yet or which concentration I would like to go down, but I’m really passionate about maternal health, social justice issues and health disparities so I’d really like to pursue something that I can have a big impact on in the future. I would also really like to go abroad, specifically the UK, to study there because I think it would be really helpful to get a different bearing on different health institutions and different health care plans because they do have somewhat national healthcare there. It would provide me with a different environment to know more about and I think it would be really beneficial for the future. 

I’ve noticed you plan on being an epidemiologist and was wondering how COVID has driven your dream/passion?

I was initially intending to go to medical school and it was a hard and scary decision to settle down and know for once what I actually wanted to do. But, I made the jump in 2019, probably this past summer or earlier, to pursue epidemiology. So, I was already intending to go down that path, and then obviously the pandemic came, and if anything, it has motivated me even more. It has opened my eyes to the lack of education that is surrounding epidemiology and communicable diseases. It has motivated me to pursue an additional path in my career that I didn’t consider before, which is the educational aspect of Epidemiology and Public Health and introducing people to the actual knowledge of what diseases are to help them in a situation like this. It’s been a real eye-opener to see how  lacking it is, even with all the scientific knowledge that is so prominent in our environment and culture today. 

What made you decide to major in science/epidemiology?

Overall, I’ve loved science, specifically biology, but I hated chemistry. I wanted to do something with science but wanted it to be with people because I love science and people, so anything that had to do with biology was the perfect combination of the two. I thought medicine was a good first choice, but then I started to learn more and more that I can work with science and people on more of a community-scale instead of an individual scale. That and the idea that I can mesh all these passions that I have in order to help on a bigger scale rather than an individual doctor-to-patient relationship was really appealing to me. 

What would you say to future scientists, doctors, etc.?

One of the things that I’m really proud of is the context I’ve been building to my education. So, I do have these other minors that don’t necessarily fit in with science and epidemiology, but they build up that knowledge and understanding because I am learning about medical injustice and public policy and how science can change lives, in a legal sense, and it wasn’t anything I intended for myself. But if I was to give advice to anyone, it would be to branch out and to take classes that don’t necessarily fit in because those are some of the most meaningful ones that can give you this knowledge that you didn’t think you would have before and they’re so important.

Any advice to potential new members this fall?

I don’t want to say it but I have to: you just really have to trust the process! It’s so weird and probably the weirdest thing you’ll ever hear. It’s also the weirdest thing you’ll ever do, but it’s the most meaningful and I do think you’ll feel it. You’ll know, but don’t be afraid to ask questions that are meaningful to you or to get to know girls on a level that is important to you. This process is about you, where you think you want to belong, and where you feel you belong. So, just stay true to yourself and you’ll find it. 

One of your favorite moments from Pi Phi?

The one that I think back on was when I was a sophomore/junior in the entirety of 2019 and was right before our (Pi Phi) executive board switched over. I was actually filling a position in for the last time before it became another sister’s position. I was in charge of initiation, last in-person initiation as it turns out. So, I was getting initiated my freshman year and my mom got into a car accident on her way to me so she was unable to participate. But, when I was in charge of initiation, I was so stressed and freaking out with everything going on. I looked at Mo (president at the time), and I was like “We did it! We’re all done with initiation!” and she was like “No we have one more person.” and I’m like “Oh my god, who?” I was freaking out and Mo said, “You!” My mom was there too and she finally got to initiate me. We were all crying and it was such a surprise to see my mom. That is definitely one of my favorite moments.

How has Pi Phi prepared you for your life after college?

I never knew I was going to be in as many leadership positions as I realized coming into Pi Phi. I was kind of like on the executive board since my initiation because I slated in on the electoral position that was voted on ever since I was initiated and I never knew that would happen to me. I think leadership wise it’s been really good to boost up my idea of leadership and teamwork, and my ability to work with a big group of people and for a group of people especially with all behind-the-scenes stuff that no one ever sees but goes on all the time. So, it’s definitely been an experience and I think it’s been really beneficial going into a professional world in order to prepare me for that hard work.

Michelle is a junior studying Human Biology on the Pre-Med Track. She is a writer and assistant editor for Her Campus MSU and a member of Pi Beta Phi fraternity. Her favorite things are her dog, Charlie, reading, and traveling!
MSU Contributor Account: for chapter members to share their articles under the chapter name instead of their own.