October 23, 2009
Sarah Kurian has studied the piano for more than 10 years. She likes church music to ABBA to anything by the Beatles. "I think I was born in the wrong decade," she chimes.
At Knox, Kurian is a biochemistry major and music minor, so Knox's RUSH program for early admission to medical school offered her just the right opportunity to pursue her medical and music interests.
Through the cooperative agreement with Rush Medical College in Chicago selected first-year Knox students are guaranteed admission to enroll at Rush following completion of their bachelor's degree at Knox.
The program encourages pre-medical students to fully engage in the residential, liberal arts experience, including participation in the wide range of academic and extra-curricular experiences without the pressure of the MCAT -- Medical College Admission Test. Early acceptance to medical school -- Knox-Rush students are chosen during the summer following their first year -- gives students a chance to participate in activities, such as study abroad, varsity athletics or considerable co-curricular involvement, that they may otherwise have chosen to limit or forgo.
Kurian is a member of the Knox Choir and served as its president last year. "It is a big commitment. We handle all of the fundraising, prepare handbooks for all the choir members and write letters to alumni. You don't realize how much work it is until you do it."
Keeping Her Options Open
Kurian came to Knox from Elburn, Illinois, knowing that she wanted to pursue pre-med. "But I came here and thought maybe I should open up and not limit myself. I can't be all the time science - music keeps me sane. From the get go I have always been the type of person that has to do something outside science, or I will go bonkers. I need balance. It's just part of my personality."
She maintains a balance by orchestrating her biochemistry studies with jazz piano lessons, voice lessons, classes in ceramics and Ancient Greek and conducting an Honors project focused on the folding mechanism for a mutated form of the bacterial GrpE protein. "Understanding how the protein folds can lead to understanding how proteins misfold in diseases like Alzheimer's. If we can better understand why that's happening we might be able to come up with some treatment for it," she says.
Celebrating her undergraduate experience
While a sophomore, Kurian traveled to Spain with the Knox Choir. "Going to Spain changed a lot of things for me. I was initially thinking of graduating in three years and going to medical school. But that trip made me realize that I want to fully enjoy my undergraduate years."
Kurian says she has learned to relax, enjoy the moment and follow the advice she receives from faculty. "I've tried to always keep my options open. I try to do that with everything. The Rush program was a big draw for me. My friends are all applying to graduate school and worried about that. I am so thankful that I was able to get into the Knox-Rush program and able to take it easy. It's been a big burden off my back, and it has allowed me to do a lot of other things."
Kurian's father is a doctor, so she says she knows that it is a lifestyle and not just a career from 9 to 5. "So keeping that in mind I think I will be able to choose a specialty that really makes sense for me and interests me."
This year, Kurian was awarded the Faculty Scholarship, the highest honor the Knox faculty accords a student. It is awarded during Opening Convocation in September to a member of the junior class who has exhibited exceptional academic ability while significantly participating in extra-curricular activities.
Kurian also was selected as a 2009 Student Laureate by The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. The award is given annually to one distinguished senior at each four-year college and university in Illinois, as well as a student from one of the state's community colleges.