Next Stop: Graduate School
Wadie Mahauad-Fernandez, class of 2012, came to Augustana from Ecuador to study Biology. This fall, he’ll begin his Ph.D. program at the University of Iowa.
Q. What led to your enrollment at Augustana College?
A. I liked that Augustana is one of the top colleges in the Midwest and that it is a private school where you can get one-on-one time with the professors.
Q. Talk about your experiences working with Augustana professors. How did they help prepare you for graduate school? Did you have the opportunity to do undergraduate research?
A. They advised me on what grad school would be like, what I should expect if I go and they also pushed me into taking different upper level biology classes that will be helpful for grad school. In addition, they guided me on how to apply, how I should prepare for the GRE test, and they advised me on what I should do in the interview for admission.
I did do research in the summer of 2011. I worked with Dr. Paul Egland on a project involving two different bacteria found in dental plaque. This experience was pivotal for my decision to go to grad school because it made me realize that I really enjoy research. Research helped me realize what research was really about. Many of the experiments we did in our biology classes had a defined protocol where most of the time things work out. However, in research, this is not the case; you set up an experiment and it may or may not work and you have to come up with your own experiments to try to answer a particular question. I love the feeling of arriving at the truth; the feeling of discovering something new.
Q. Share information about the graduate program you will begin this fall.
A. I was accepted to the molecular and cellular biology program at the University of Iowa, located in Iowa City. The first two years I will be taking classes and doing rotations in different labs in order to choose the research topic and the mentor that I will be working with for three more years.
Q. What are your career goals after your Ph.D. program?
A. I would like to keep doing research and after I have more experience in the field, I would like to go back to my home country, Ecuador, in order to improve the field of research that is slowly developing in my country.
Q. Were you involved in any clubs, organizations, or activities while a student at Augustana?
A. I participated in different intramural tournaments, volunteered at different places like the Red Cross, Sanford Health and the city’s Multicultural Center. I also attended and participated in different events organized by Augustana’s International Programs Office. In addition, my freshman and sophomore year I was part of the Augustana men’s soccer club.
Q. Where’s your favorite place on campus?
A. My favorite place on campus is the Elmen Center because that was the place where I could take a break from everything and actually workout and play sports. That was my favorite place for sport related things. At the Gilbert Science Center, my favorite place was the lobby on the second floor because it was a great place to study.
Q. What was your favorite class?
A. My favorite class was physiology along with microbiology, molecular biology and pharmacology. From other fields, I really enjoyed French and the religion classes.
Q. Who is/was your favorite professor and why?
A. My favorite professors were Dr. Paul Egland and Dr. Mark Larson, both from the biology department. They were my favorite professors because they helped me not only in topics related to the classes I was taking with them, but also in topics outside of class related to my future and other topics. I had the opportunity to know them better than other professors and that is something that you can only get at a school like Augustana.
Q. What is your best Augustana memory/moment?
A. The best moment was graduation. For me, it was the moment where both of my worlds came together. The United States was one of those worlds and the other one was Ecuador. When my parents came for graduation, those two worlds were connected.
Q. Talk about living in Sioux Falls. Were there benefits to you as a student?
A. Sioux Falls is a nice place to live in because of the kindness of the people that live here. It’s also nice because it doesn’t have the kinds of problems really large cities have.
Q. What is the one thing you’d say to students considering Augustana?
A. I would tell them that Augustana is a great place because of the different activities that are always going on and because of the one on one time you get with professors. Mainly, I would tell them that Augustana is special because you learn how to learn.