Combining Language and Science for a Life of Service
Andrea Herrera ‘10C dreams of earning her medical degree and eventually opening a clinic in an underprivileged country. She took her critical first steps on this journey at St. John’s University, where she received the inspiration to serve and the tools necessary for success.
After researching programs at different colleges, Andrea opted to major in Biology at St. John’s, noting that it offered her a wealth of career opportunities. “I always wanted to study medicine and courses such as Histology with Dr. Pepitone and Physiology with Dr. Zimmerman reinforced my interest in the study of the human body and the medical field.”
A native of Spain, Andrea inherited a love for the French language and culture from her father, who lived in France for six years as a child. “I decided to give (French) a try for my language credit, and I fell in love with the language,” she said, adding that it is similar to her native Spanish and the cultures bear several similarities as well. She enjoyed it so much she opted to take a double major in Biology and French.
Andrea immediately found her niche at St. John’s. Not only did she bond with her fellow Biology majors but she also joined the Francophone Circle, eventually becoming an executive board member in her junior and senior year.
To fulfill her requirements in French, Andrea had to take an internship in a French-speaking country. Her faculty mentor, Zoe Petropoulou, Ph.D., helped her obtain one at a biology lab affiliated with the Hospitaux Drome-Nord in Romans-Sur-Isere. “Working there really reinforced my biology skills as well as my French,” she noted. “I was living by myself in a small studio and had no choice but to learn French well in order to communicate effectively. I learned conversational French as well as medical terms in French.”
The dedicated faculty at St. John’s is always on hand to offer guidance and support to our students, Andrea said. She credited Dr. Petropoulou with being a great source of wisdom and encouragement. “She encouraged me to do the double major and I am grateful she did. She’s always been there when I needed any advice,” said Andrea.
Andrea is proud of her time at St. John’s and stressed that both her Biology and French professors motivated her far beyond just obtaining her degree. As a member of the Francophone Circle, Andrea helped members of the Haitian Society pack items for the relief effort following the devastating earthquake in January of this year. “My advice is to not to be afraid of taking risks and pursue what you’re really passionate about,” she said. Do as much volunteer work and internships as your schedule allows.”
Attending St. John’s made a great difference in Andrea’s life, helping focus her career goals and expanding her horizons into areas she had not considered before, and her future looks bright. “I’m putting the knowledge I gained at St. John’s and the desire to serve to good use.”