Jacqueline Horgan is a bioengineer, cheerleading captain, volunteer tutor, and Honors College student.
Jacqueline Horgan is a bioengineer, cheerleading captain, volunteer tutor, and Honors College student. She says UMassD gave her the opportunity to pursue ambitious research while still enjoying the full college experience.
How and why did you get interested in bioengineering?
"I was in a biomedical sciences program in high school as part of Project Lead the Way, and it introduced me to the field. I learned a lot of lab techniques, as well as how broad the field was and the different ways it could be applied. I really liked how the work I would be doing as a job could help improve patients' lives."
Why did you choose UMass Dartmouth?
"I chose UMassD because of the small class sizes; I would know who all my professors were, and I knew I could feel comfortable asking questions. Faculty here are very accessible during and outside of office hours. I also found opportunities for undergraduate research and other experiences outside of the curriculum that I might not have had access to at a bigger school. I love that the department's curriculum is student-specific; it allows you to take classes in the specialty you're most interested in.
"The school really felt like home - I was instantly comfortable, and I was able to participate in activities that I love like cheerleading alongside my schoolwork."
How would you describe your experience at UMassD?
"Even with COVID-19, I still got the complete college experience: a well-rounded education, lots of opportunities, lots of support, and the chance to do activities I love and try new things. I made a lot of great friends both within and outside of my major and was able to challenge myself academically and athletically. I feel extremely well-prepared for my future."
How was your experience with the Honors College? How did this add value to your college experience?
"The Honors College offers many events to their students, like paint nights or apple picking. These are fun social opportunities for students to mingle outside of the classroom. The APEX project also gives students the opportunity to explore a project of their choosing. My project was The Growth Methods of CHO Cells and the Derived Properties Observed."
Tell us about being a cheerleader at UMassD. How did you balance athletics with your classes and internship?
"When I joined the team freshman year, it was a small non-competitive club that didn’t have enough uniforms to fit the whole team. I had been involved in competitive cheerleading my whole life and it was always my dream to compete at the National Cheerleading Association (NCA) College Nationals, so I hoped to get the club to be able to qualify. Cheer is not a varsity sport, but I was still able to get support from the school and student government association so we could compete nationally against teams from all over the U.S.
"This winter we qualified for college nationals after a ton of hard work. With our fundraising efforts, and support from SGA and the school, we made it to the competition. Our team placed fourth in Division III at the NCA College Nationals in Daytona Beach, FL.
"Balancing athletics, academics, and other obligations can be tricky, but prioritization and time management are essential skills that have helped to prepare me for life after college as well!"
Tell us about the research you’ve done.
"I was an undergraduate research assistant in the Ferreira Lab looking at zebrafish as a toxicity testing model, testing a novel cellulose-based material for disposable drink lids and packaging. I've been a scientific research intern with BioAgilytix in Cambridge, MA since October 2021.
"My capstone project is looking at the epigenetic factors that affect the expression of VEGF (a wound-healing protein) in human fibroblasts. We are doing this through the over-expression of VEGF within the cells, then placing them into different environmental conditions to assess how protein production is affected. This project has allowed me to advance my lab skills and get comfortable with designing my own experiments."
How has UMass Dartmouth prepared you for your future?
"UMass Dartmouth gave me opportunities to learn and advance my skills in any area I found interesting. I was able to learn advanced lab skills early in my education, pursue projects of my choosing, and develop skills important to life like resume building, time management, and communication. The opportunities I've received and participated in have taught me to work hard, and never give up."
You volunteer your time to tutor students in need; tell us about why this is important to you.
"When I was young, I began tutoring with my mom who is an elementary school teacher. She offers free lessons at the public library in her town to help support underprivileged youth in her school district. Once I was old enough, I began tutoring kids on my own so we could help twice as many students in the area. Talking with students, encouraging them, and seeing their confidence increase is very rewarding. I’ve always loved working with children and giving back to the community, so being able to help students advance their skills in fundamental areas like reading, math, and science to help set them up for success is something extremely fulfilling to me."
What advice do you have for current or future UMassD students?
"My advice is to pursue everything you're interested in! You never know what you might like, or how far you can take something until you try - college is all about trying new things and there are plenty of opportunities at UMass Dartmouth to do that! There are hundreds of clubs, activities, and sports to join, but if you're missing something that’s not here, you can create a space for it!"
What are your plans following graduation?
"Following graduation this year, I will be returning to UMassD for one additional year to get my master's degree as part of the 4+1 program. After that, I plan to join the biotech industry. I recently learned that I’ve been awarded an S-STEM master's scholarship from the National Science Foundation which covers up to $10,000 of my master's studies and provides a teaching assistant position as well."