Alumni Stories: English Major wins NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

Alumni Stories: English Major wins NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

     With the help of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, double major Ana Marija Sola is headed to medical school. She graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. Ana Marija is an Aggie soccer star, winner of the team’s Newcomer of the Year as a first year student and two-time Most Valuable Defensive Player. She intends to make use of her NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship as she enters medical school in 2017. 

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We asked Ana Marija four questions about her English Major story: 

What on earth does majoring in English have to do with medical school? 

So much! As an NPB major you get to explore really exciting topics and questions such as where cognition arises from or how we learn and make memories. As a student of English literature, you delve into similar discussions of cognition and memory, but from the perspective of novels and poetry. There are so many topics where the two intersect, and I’ve enjoyed approaching works of modern poetry by Gertrude Stein or even Jane Austen’s novels through the lens of medical sciences. Moreover, being an English major has helped me grow in my ability to empathize and consider another person’s perspective, hugely important skills for working in medicine.


What area of medicine are you planning to study? What appeals to you about your future field of study?

I currently have a fairly extensive background in neurobiology and am considering a related field such as Neurology or Psychiatry. The study of the human mind has captivated me for a long time and shaped my research interests. Specifically, the ability for a few cells to develop and differentiate into an organ as complex as the human brain never ceases to capture my amazement. This field offers a lot of room for interdisciplinary collaboration, a prospect that aligns with my interest in English as well.


How did you become interested in taking English classes at Davis?

Like many of my fellow English majors, I was a life-long reader before coming to college. I knew that I wanted to have a more formal background in the humanities by the time I had finished my undergraduate education. The English department at Davis offered the flexibility and wide range of topics that made being a double major both feasible and extremely exciting. After taking Professor Fran Dolan’s English 10A class the winter quarter of my freshman year, I would go on to take one or two English classes each quarter after that. The small group discussions and one-on-one interactions with professors were so refreshing after sitting through huge general chemistry and biology lectures my freshman year.  


What course in the Davis English department would you especially recommend to other students?

One of my favorite courses at Davis was the Study of an Individual Author course I took my senior year. While this particular course was focused on Jane Austen, the author of interest varies each quarter. The opportunity to spend an entire quarter reading a single author, though a seemingly daunting and even tedious task, turned out to be an amazingly stimulating and enjoyable experience. By the end of the quarter, I felt I had a holistic understanding of Austen and her collection of works. Getting to know an author in such as comprehensive and intimate way was a highlight of my time at Davis, an experience I would recommend to my fellow students.    


Read more about Ana Marija:

And read more about her NCAA award:

Photo credit: KATIE LIN / AGGIE FILE