Feature Stories 2024: Colin Soares '24: Aspiring pediatrician

Medical Laboratory Science major
Feature Stories 2024: Colin Soares '24: Aspiring pediatrician
Colin Soares '24: Aspiring pediatrician

Medical laboratory science major is prepared for work at one of the nation's top children's hospitals before applying to medical school

After transferring from Bristol Community College to UMass Dartmouth's medical laboratory science program (MLS), Colin Soares '24 has never looked back. He served as president of the MLS Club and a leader for STEP Up, a one-year bridge program for incoming College of Nursing & Health Sciences (CNHS) students. During his senior year, he interned at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and has accepted a position in their infectious disease lab.

Graduating with magna cum laude honors, Soares also received the Dr. James T. Griffith Medical Lab Sciences Professional Achievement Award, given to those who exhibit the ideals of the college and excel in the profession with their commitment to the service of humanity. 

Soares' academic and practical experiences have prepared him for his ultimate goal: to become a pediatrician or pediatric surgeon. He believes that majoring in MLS, with its emphasis on human biology, will set him apart in both his future job and as a medical school applicant. 

UMass Dartmouth experience 

Why did you choose UMassD? 

"A major reason was receiving the Mass Transfer Scholarship along with being accepted into the Medical Laboratory Science Program. Coming from Bristol Community College was a smooth transition. I was well prepared academically. It helped that the MLS program is small; we're all family." 

 What makes UMassD special? 

"The faculty of UMassD are unlike any others I have met. They were all so helpful and always willing to assist or answer any questions to support me in any way they could. They truly care about their students and it shows."

Blood drive donations
Colin Soares '24 (right), who organized three blood drives on campus, with control specimens while his classmate, Jaime Mersereau '24, carefully holds biohazardous materials.

College of Nursing & Health Sciences (CNHS) experience

Why did you decide to major in Medical Laboratory Science? 

"I wanted to learn more about human physiology and pathophysiology. In my job, I'll be able to advise physicians when they order tests. 
"I also want to go to medical school and, from the views of many doctors and physicians, this is probably the best undergraduate degree to prepare me for medical school and set me apart from other applicants. While many major in biology or biochemistry, they don't have a background in human physiology. In the MLS program, we start with human physiology on day one."  

How was your experience in the medical laboratory science program and working with faculty?

"The professors are so passionate about their subjects and their work that they make the classes enjoyable and make learning these difficult concepts fun and interesting. They are there for far more than academic help. I have gone to professors with questions about life and advice about applying for jobs after graduation and they are more than willing to help and even serve as references."
As president of the MLS Club, Soares created study groups and planned events and activities for MLS students to help with classwork, networking, peer advising, and share exam prep software to help graduating seniors prepare for the national certification exam.  
Volunteering as a group leader and MLS liaison for STEP Up was "a great experience. I had office hours where students could come in and ask questions. That peer-to-peer interaction was valuable for first-year students."

Is there a memorable experience that stands out for you?

"Our final case study project as part of our Senior Seminar will have a lasting impact on me and my future. It allowed me to follow the entire course of a patient's stay at the hospital along with a deeper dig into their medical and treatment history. You're looking at a lot of the major hospital care teams like cardiology, nephrology, and endocrinology to understand the puzzle of a patient's condition, how the puzzle was solved, and how to treat the patient along with all the theories behind the conditions and disease causing the patient's illness."

Tell us about your internship at Boston Children's Hospital.

All MLS majors complete a one-semester internship during their senior year. According to Newsweek's "World's Best Specialized Hospitals," BCH is the #1 children's hospital in the world and consistently ranks #1 or #2 among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children's Hospitals Honor Roll. 
"My internship was amazing and was one of the best experiences of my life. The different rotations including blood bank, clinical chemistry, microbiology, and hematology, each taught me so much." 
During an Enrichment Week at the end of his clinicals, Soares visited different sites at the Rhode Island Department of Health to see the work of a public health lab. Wearing a Hazmat suit, Soares observed scientists testing samples of special pathogens and bioterrorist agents like anthrax. He also observed whole genome testing and wastewater testing which can predict an outbreak 2-3 weeks before it occurs. 

Presenting senior case study
Colin Soares presents his senior case study to deans of the College of Nursing & Heath Sciences and the medical laboratory science faculty.

Future Plans 

Do you feel prepared for your future career? 

"CNHS has more than prepared me for my future career. I realized this quickly during my clinical rotations when I was able to have profound conversations with the scientists in the lab along with pathologists and doctors. I was so well prepared that I was offered multiple jobs during my rotations.  
“I start my position at BCH in July. I'll be working with lots of MLS graduates, including Taonga Horace '23. I'm hearing from managers and doctors that UMass Dartmouth is nationally known for our MLS program. 
"This experience at BCH also sets me apart from other medical school applicants. I'll see a whole other aspect of medicine and issues you wouldn't see at a regular hospital. I'm going to be able to shadow doctors and pathologists and learn from them. They will show me what it's like to be a pediatrician."

What made you choose pediatrics? 

"I enjoy working with kids. I have two younger sisters and lots of younger cousins. I had a great role model in my pediatrician growing up. He was an amazing human being."

Do you have any advice for future Corsairs?

"Chase your dreams and never stop learning. Don't be afraid of those late nights because they will pay off."