Denise Lee '12

JOB TITLE: Research assistant

ORGANIZATION: Harvard Medical School 

LOCATION: Boston, Massachusetts

GRADUATE DEGREE: Enrolled in classes at Harvard Extension School

What was your first position after college? I am still working in my first position after college, which is at Harvard Medical School as a research assistant. I do clinical research on people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and how air pollution affects their disease.

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? A liberal arts education has definitely helped me by giving me many possibilities to be creative with my career. I am happy that I went to a liberal arts school because I was able to focus on my major as well as take other classes that I’d enjoy outside of it. This enabled me to realize that my career doesn’t have to be black and white.

What aspects of your Trinity experience have been important to advancing your career or graduate school experience? Trinity’s Health Fellows Program was one of the best experiences I had at Trinity and was really important to advancing my career experience. The Health Fellows Program allowed me to work in a hospital setting alongside doctors, which really increased my interest in medicine. This program taught me a lot of important skills that I am now able to apply to my current job. 

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? I suggest Trinity students get as much experience as possible in the medical field (shadowing doctors, working on clinical research projects, community service), especially if they are pre-med and/or looking to work in health care. Being involved in research helps build important skills such as decision making, problem solving, and working with others.   

What is the biggest misconception about your field? A lot of people think that getting an M.D. is the only way to be in the medical or health care fields–that is not true. There are plenty of other careers one can pursue, such as being an epidemiologist or working in other public health positions, such as a physician’s assistant, nurse, statistician, veterinarian, or dentist. The list goes on and on.