Kirsten Harnden '19: internships to gain real-world experience

The three-sport athlete is a bioengineering major and holds a job on campus.

Kirsten Harnden - Admissions Corsair Rep
  • Year: Class of 2019
  • Major: Bioengineering
  • Hometown: Fitchburg, MA
  • Honors: Dean's List
  • Awards: Abigail Adams Scholarship
  • Athletics: Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track
  • Leadership: Captain, Cross Country, Track & Field

As a Corsair Rep for Admissions, Kirsten Harnden '19 is gaining experience in social media and sharing her UMassD success story with prospective students.

Bioengineering major

I got interested in engineering in high school. I mainly focused on science and math classes and loved anatomy and physiology and exercise science. As a runner I wanted to understand how the body worked and what caused injuries, etc. I began researching how to make this into a career and landed on bioengineering and then became really interested in medical devices.

Internship focus: medical devices

After my sophomore year, I worked as a clinical research intern at Brigham and Women’s Hospital within the Anne Romney Center for Neurologic Disease.

Following my junior year, I was a research and design engineering intern at BioSurfaces, Inc., a medical device and technology company.

At BioSurfaces, I learned a lot about medical devices and bringing a device to market. I worked closely with the Chief Technology Officer and helped to develop a device prototype using their proprietary electrospinning technology. I also worked with other engineers on their team to perform testing and analyze data for other products being developed.

BioSurfaces currently sponsors my senior design capstone project.

Career goals in the field

Following graduation, I would like to work in industry, specifically research and development or product development. Maybe in a few years, I will go back and get my master's degree, but I have not fully decided on what I will go back for, maybe another engineering degree, maybe an advanced degree in regulatory affairs.

Balancing athletics and academics

Participating in athletics has been an extremely positive experience. Joining a team in college made the transition from high school so much smoother, because there was always someone there to guide me. Joining a team helped me to make really strong friendships, as well—we are like a little family. It enabled me to come out of my comfort zone and meet new people on other athletics teams, too.

Participating in a sport also helped me stay on track with my degree. I knew that bioengineering was demanding, and to make everything work I had to budget my time a lot. It wasn’t always easy, especially with also having a job on campus, but I made it work because I love to run and I love what I am studying.

One thing I learned was to never be afraid to get extra help in a class, and I try to stress that to my teammates who are struggling. You need good grades to be on the team, so getting the help is pretty much a requirement. There were semesters where I went to tutoring every day, while still participating in athletics.

Dedication to make it work

I think if you are dedicated enough you can make it all work. I have found running and being a part of a team to be a huge stress relief. Sometimes it is good to take a step back from the studying and run around!

My message to teammates—and to future Corsair athletes—would be: budget your time, stay dedicated, ask for help, and take a deep breath and go to practice to de-stress.

"At UMassD, you have the space to be your own person"

UMassD is a smaller university, but big enough to feel like you have space to be your own person. That's what makes it special to me.

I love that all of my professors take the time to get to know us as people and will help in any way possible. I have always found that whenever I need help with anything on campus, there is someone or some resource available to help.

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Admissions, College of Engineering, Departments Bioengineering Dept, Features, Features Commencement, Features Internships