Photo credit: Dan Yee '21
Feature Stories 2020: Erin Steele '20: Grateful and proud
Erin Steele '20: Grateful and proud

An internship at medical device start-up, a semester abroad in Cyprus, and challenging bioengineering courses were part of her career preparation

May 8, 2020 didn’t look much like she expected it to when she dreamed of Commencement day from UMass Dartmouth. But, until that event happens in person, Erin Steele will reflect on the pride she has in her alma mater and the gratitude for the support she received while she pursued her bachelor’s degree in bioengineering.

Steele has always believed that if you work hard, you will ultimately find a career you enjoy. Fueled by that motivation, her choice to study bioengineering at UMassD bridged her interests of math, science, and engineering. “I like a change of environments, traveling, and learning how I can make an impact in people’s lives,” she said.

UMassD’s high-quality academic program and affordability influenced Steele’s decision to study here. But, like most students, figuring out how to subsidize her college education was a challenge. Financial aid assistance and numerous scholarships made her education at UMassD possible. Knowing that without the help, she would have to work to pay for tuition, or be forced to spread out her college career over five or even six years, Steele is appreciative of the donors and support that led her to graduation day.

“I wouldn't have been able to afford college or graduate on time without financial aid to lessen the burden,” she said. “I am grateful for the support that helped me get here.”

Always an ambitious learner, Steele sought out opportunities within her coursework and beyond that created an unforgettable experience in preparation for life beyond college. She thrived at an internship working on new wound closure technology at medical device start-up Opus KSD in Pembroke, MA, a semester abroad in Cyprus, and in challenging bioengineering courses. 

“At my internship, I got to perform testing on a new product that recently came to market—a bioabsorbable skin closure system designed for binding small and laparoscopic incisions,” she said.

Exploring topics outside her major with UMassD’s liberal arts-based curriculum contributed to expanding her perspective about the world. “I chose to study abroad in Cyprus because I wanted to challenge myself to experience a new place and culture,” she said. At the University of Nicosia, she took four courses equivalent to her UMassD courses while getting to know a new culture and people.

When she looks back on her years at UMassD, it will be the sense of community that she recalls most fondly.

“I am proud to be a graduate of UMassD because of my amazing bioengineering professors who made us feel like we were one big family,” she said. “My favorite thing about UMassD is that it is so diverse, from the friends I have met and faculty who have influenced me to the variety of courses.”

Erin has already realized that her hard work at UMass Dartmouth will have a far-reaching impact. This summer, she will begin working as a nuclear engineer for the Department of Defense.

“I am eternally grateful.”