high school senior Sigourney poses with friends from the UC Davis Summer Pre-College Program
High school senior Sigourney poses with friends from the UC Davis Summer Pre-College Program (Photo courtesy of Sigourney)

Rising Senior Test-Drives Environmental Toxicology at UC Davis

Sigourney of Reno, Nevada, had her heart set on attending a summer pre-college program before heading into her senior year of high school. She was looking at several colleges and interested in studying toxicology and biochemistry. A pre-college program was her opportunity to get her feet wet before committing to a college and major. Having previously visited the UC Davis campus, she was excited to learn that UC Davis Pre-College Programs offered a course in Environmental Toxicology. “I was considering applying to UC Davis in the fall, and chose to use this opportunity to finalize that decision,” she says. “The environmental toxicology program also stood out to me, as no other pre-college programs I was looking at offered that topic.”  

Here, Sigourney shares her experience in the program.  

What were your goals going into the program?

My main goal was to see if I liked UC Davis and would want to apply there, and to also see if I actually wanted to pursue a major in toxicology. I enjoyed the UC Davis campus and town of Davis, as I am applying this fall and am looking more into what I can do with a toxicology or related degree, given that I enjoyed what I learned in the program.  

What was it like living and studying on a college campus?

I was a bit nervous at first, with meeting new people and figuring out the dining hall, but after a few days I was having a lot of fun. I had figured out my routine in a dorm setting and was slowly learning my way around the big UC Davis campus. I felt organized and not overwhelmed—relaxed but still ready to learn. (And the food was all delicious!)  

What did you find most valuable about the program?

Getting hands-on lab experience that I wouldn’t receive otherwise. There is only so much that you can do in labs in high school. During the program, we learned several new and very important lab techniques, such as micropipetting and running gels. The experience overall helped me to confirm that I would like to pursue a career in a lab and that this is something I want to study in college.  

What were some of your favorite memories from the program?

We worked with a great lab, the Nicklisch Lab, which had a really nice professor who made the learning engaging and fun, as well as really nice TAs and adorable pets. My favorite memory from the whole program, however, was the Davis Farmers Market. Both times that we went were a lot of fun and had delicious food!  

How will your experience in the program help as you apply to colleges?

The program helped me to narrow what I am interested in studying. I have applied this when researching colleges and have paid more attention to what I am looking for in a college’s science programs and the research they are doing.  

Test Drive a Major at UC Davis

Learn more about our summer residential pre-college program for high school students. Contact an enrollment coach to schedule your appointment today.

Did you learn anything new about yourself or discover new interests during the program?

The environmental toxicology program focused on the gene expression in mosquito fish and honeybees. Although I had a great experience, I learned that I would be more interested in research pertaining to human health rather than animals, as I feel more of a connection.  

Would you recommend the program?

Yes. Everyone in the program was super nice and made the experience fun, not intimidating. I learned a lot—areas I would never have the opportunity to learn about in high school. This helped me to identify what I am interested in for college and pinpoint my interests. Overall, it was a really positive experience that I would highly recommend.

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