Convocation spotlight: Medical Laboratory Science '23 grad Jessica Liu

Jessica Liu will receive her BSc MLS in June.

5 June 2023

What initially drew you to this area of study?

Prior to being admitted into the program, I was studying biological sciences and hoping to transfer to health-care. While lounging around in my living room, my sister suddenly suggested, “Why don’t you go into medical laboratory science?” and something just clicked. I was unaware of this small program, but after a quick glance at the program description, I knew what career I wanted to pursue. The profession is characterized by an interplay between theoretical knowledge and practical bench skills that I really valued.

What achievement, accomplishment or moment are you most proud of from your time in the program?

My proudest moment was when I received a passing grade on my certification exam. I was never the type of person to get stressed about exams or evaluations, but I had finally found my passion and this exam would determine whether or not I could start to apply my skills in the real world – skills I have worked very hard to develop. The week before the exam, I couldn’t sleep and my heart was constantly pounding. When I got the results of the exam, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off me. I finally did it!

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Around halfway through my program, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was tasked with processing the news and my emotions, attending countless appointments, managing the mental health issues I already had, and keeping up with the busy student life that accompanied this program. It was a mental overload.

How did you stay motivated and who helped you keep going when things got tough?

School was an escape from everything else that was happening in my life. I would like to thank my now-former director, Lisa Purdy, who was so incredibly supportive during this time. She offered resources, discussed options regarding program continuation and gave general encouragement. Knowing that I had these options was reassuring, but I wanted to keep moving through the program without delay. Simply continuing in the program without pause gave me comfort in knowing that I was preparing for a bright future past all the health issues.

What advice would you give to a student thinking of entering this program of study/specialization?

Prepare to be unable to ace every exam and remind yourself that this does not mean you are failing. This program is academically challenging, and I have seen this result in a challenge of self-worth in my classmates. Be kind to yourself. You have worked hard to get here and should be proud of your accomplishments.

What have you learned about yourself, and how will you use this going forward?

I learned that I can persevere through anything for something that I care about. I also learned that a little support goes a long way. Just having friends who understood what I was going through and a caring program director helped me stay hopeful and motivated. Going forward, I know I can always count on my friends to offer some encouragement. Thanks, everyone!

What comes next for you in your career/academic journey?

I am very happy to have accepted a job as a medical laboratory technologist here in Edmonton. I am not sure what comes after that, but I am content to just see where life takes me.