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Ready to tackle the next big thing

Branda Joseph’22 is constantly setting goals — big and small. The health and society and French double major (with a minor in biology) is feeling good about where she’s headed next, from a summer research project in Beloit to studying abroad in the fall to graduate studies and eventually working in a hospital.

She’s taking steps, one by one, to get to where she wants to go.

Branda Joseph will have a busy senior year. After completing a summer research project, she’s off to study abroad on the tropical island of Réunion before applying for a master’s in public health or biomedical science and graduating from Beloit College. That’s a lot to look forward to, especially after the dark days of the pandemic disrupted so much of Joseph’s college experience.

“It’s weird because it’s my first time being here [in Beloit] over the summer,” says Joseph, who was born in Haiti and has been living in the Chicagoland area. “But at the same time, I’ve been very productive.”

She’s well into an eight-week summer research project with Beloit’s Pakula Biomedical Fellowship Program. The program comes with a stipend and counts toward clinical hours that Joseph will need to rack up before applying to medical school. She works alongside Associate Professor of Biology Amy Briggs to investigate how students perceive and learn biology, as well as the challenges that professors face in the classroom.

Joseph doesn’t have much time between ending the project and starting her semester in Saint-Denis, the capital of Réunion, a small French island neighboring Madagascar. There, she’ll learn French Creole and study microbiology and molecular genetics — and maybe visit a beach or two.

She chose Réunion for both its strong health science program and its warm island climate. “I also wanted to go somewhere different than where people usually go,” she says. “The last person [from Beloit] who went there I believe was in 2006.”

One of Joseph’s other goals is to know where she’s going to graduate school by December, but she’s reluctant to talk about graduation just yet. “It’s a lot of pressure, even though I have a plan,” she admits. “I’m going to go to medical school, but first I’m going to get my master’s in public health or in biomedical science.” She plans to apply to the University of New Mexico, but will talk with her advisor, Professor of Political Science and Chair of Health and Society Ron Watson, about it first.

Not long ago, Joseph was having a hard time with organic chemistry. “The professor was Laura Parmentier — I could never forget her,” she says. “She pushed me to be a good scholar and to believe that I’m smart. As my advisor, Ron believed in me and [led] me to my long-term goals. These people really are wonderful, just wonderful.”

After coming back from study abroad, she’ll also be taking an online course to become a certified medical scribe, which she hopes could pave the way for future hospital employment.

“A medical scribe works closely with the doctor, making sure all the information from the patient is going directly to the computer,” Joseph explains. “I was interested in becoming a phlebotomist, but getting a medical scribe certification online instead of in-person [will] be very flexible for my plans.”

In the meantime, Joseph looks forward to some well-deserved relaxation as the dog days of summer come to a close. She’ll need the rest to tackle The Next Big Thing.

Meg Kulikowski’21
July 29, 2021

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