Catch up with 2013 graduate Katie Solley.
Name: Katie Solley
Year Graduated Westover: 2013
College/University attended: Bucknell University
College/University Graduation Year: 2017 B.S. in Biomedical Engineering
1. Going from Westover to college that first year, how did Westover prepare you to head into a brand new environment, socially/academics, etc.?
In terms of the challenging academic atmosphere, Westover prepared me extremely well for Bucknell. Many of my first year classes were much less rigorous than my senior year classes at Westover, so I was able to quickly finish work in classes and labs. Going from boarding at Westover to living at Bucknell was also a breeze for me when entering college. Many of my friends were experiencing life away from home for the first time while I was going on year five. Overall, I was very thankful to have gone to Westover in most aspects of my life at college.
2. How did Westover give you the confidence to find yourself or find success in college?
I think this is an extremely tough question because it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when Westover gave me confidence. I truly believe that Westover has such a wide variety of confidence building activities that I cannot single out even a dozen specific instances. Doing well in school, playing well in sports, planning Dorcas, and meeting one on one with faculty have all added to this environment of caring for one another and believing that you can succeed.
3. What is something you discovered about yourself during your four years? Meaning a new passion, deciding on a major, etc.?
Discovering my passion is one of my best accomplishments of my time at Westover. I participated in the WISE program at Westover and very quickly fell in love with engineering and problem solving. Additionally, I was able to help plan Dorcas as one of the Dorcas Heads (shoutout to Jen Zdon and Catie Bates for doing an amazing job), so my love for helping people and making a difference also developed. I didn't realize it at the time, but now that I look back, I know that these two amazing experiences at Westover shaped my decision to pursue Biomedical Engineering in college and focus on projects in global settings to help underserved communities.
4. Life after college: Since graduating, what are you up to? Pursuing graduate school/jumping into the workforce?
I am currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University getting my M.S.E. in Bioengineering Innovation and Design. This program is very unique in that we are primarily focused on two medical device projects - one in the U.S and one in a global market - that run parallel throughout our one year. My current U.S. project focuses on creating devices for eye banks so that they can improve tissue preparation for corneal transplants around the world. My global project, currently located in Uganda, is a device that helps educate mothers to identify danger signs of neonatal illness in low resource settings in the first week of life. The entrepreneur in me has to say that if anyone is interested in learning more about either project, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
5. How did you decide on what to do after graduating? What was that thought-process like for you?
During my senior year, I was very conflicted about whether to try to get a job or go to graduate school. I signed up for WestoverConnect, and spoke with Alyssa Siefert about her experiences and my options for graduate school versus industry. From there, I realized that I wanted to learn more about the medical device industry, specifically medical device startups, so I chose my program at Hopkins!
6. For you, how valuable are the Westover connections?
As illustrated above, Westover connections can really help open doors that would have otherwise not been available. Even further, many Westover women are extremely excited to help and share their experiences. On a different note, my friends from Westover are still some of my best friends (my roommate of four years, Sierra Blazer - also an amazing human, is actually going to proofread my answers so that I don't get scolded for my grammar)!
7. For the upcoming Class of 2019, what advice would you give them as they prepare to start their senior year, college applications, and thinking about life after Westover?
Start early with applying to school and make sure you have all your ducks in a row to reduce stress! Ask for help whenever you need it because so many people at Westover are willing to spend some time making sure you have the best application possible. Almost more importantly, have a great senior year with your friends! Senior year was easily my favorite time at Westover, so please try to enjoy it! After Westover, try your best to keep in touch and have reunions with your friends!