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After graduation, Anita Sumali plans to attend medical school. While she is still deciding what field she’d like to pursue, she is interested in sports medicine because of her history as an athlete. | Image: Courtesy of Anita Sumali

Anita Sumali, junior in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University, was recently awarded the Thermo Fisher Scientific Antibody Scholarship. The award recognizes students interested in pursuing careers in medicine and biology.

Sumali said she’s still in some shock from receiving the scholarship.

“It's honestly still crazy to me,” she said. “I never thought that I would get it, especially because statistically there's a really large applicant pool and they only award the $10,000 scholarship to one person.”

Growing up, Sumali knew she would pursue engineering. Her father is a mechanical engineer, and at first, she focused on applying to those programs. However, during high school, she had the opportunity to shadow local doctors. The experience helped her discover a love and passion for medicine.

“I realized that I'm a very extroverted person,” she said. “I think that applying STEM to helping people would feel so much more rewarding to me than anything else.”

Biomedical engineering also brings in her mother’s and Sumali’s background, as both were athletes. Sumali participated mainly in swimming growing up.

“I sustained a lot of injuries from just overtraining and just the way that my knees are built,” Sumali said. “That's another thing that drew me to medicine, my own experiences in athletics, and my own injuries. I think that being able to help other athletes in the future would be really rewarding.”

Sumali is part of the Engineering to Medicine program, meaning she will be able to start medical school immediately after her undergraduate degree. The program is open to any engineering major and requires completion of several pre-med classes.

“It allows me to take classes that I probably wouldn't take as a traditional pre-med biomedical engineering major,” Sumali said. “I'm taking fluid dynamics and a lot of classes that involve electrical engineering concepts. I feel like I've been introduced to a lot of those topics and that makes me a more well-rounded student.” 

Sumali is the president of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, which aims to expand knowledge of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in Texas. She is also part of the Engineering Honors program, which she said is valuable because of the people involved.

“The other students that I've met in my honors classes are all so smart and driven and motivated. That also pushes me to motivate myself to do better,” Sumali said. “In honors classes, I can learn from my professors but also from my peers. I think that's a really unique community in that we're all learning together, and we're all pushing each other.”

Sumali said looking and applying for scholarships doesn’t have to take a lot of time and can be useful for undergraduate and graduate students.

“Always keep an eye out because I know that even in graduate school, there are scholarships that you can apply for. So even beyond undergrad, there's always opportunities like that,” Sumali said. “I think just taking a few minutes out of your weekend or out of your day to look for those opportunities can really be worth it.”