Liberal arts and Science with CHRISTINA SHINCOVICH ’17

Christina is a pre-med student and a four-year member of the varsity volleyball team.

Hi Tina! To start, I’m wondering about what you think your most rewarding internship experience has been throughout college.

So, this past summer I was at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s Hospital in D.C. This was the coolest internship I’ve done because it was focused on helping to make surgery for kids pain-free. The doctor that I was working with was working on a medical device. We were working on the business side of it and how devices move through the regulatory process and how they’ll go to market and the economic advantages and disadvantages. So this was an entirely new experience that I, as a pre-med student, had never really been exposed to before. Then at the same time I got to do clinical research, I got to interact with patients, and I also got to shadow, so it was a really neat thing that unified different aspects of being in a hospital.

So you’re definitely really interested in pre-med. You also take a lot of Spanish classes and you’re half Puerto Rican. Outside of medical studies, what do you think is the coolest class you’ve taken at Swarthmore and why?

Human Genetics was by far my favorite class. I love genetics and the Human Genetics seminar was really interesting because I like being able to focus on the different diseases and their proximal and distal causes. But then, outside of the science realm, I really liked a class I took called La Novela Latinoamericana.

You’ve been a member of the orchestra throughout your years at Swarthmore. When did you begin playing the violin, and what made you want to join the orchestra in college? What do you get from your orchestra experience (like relaxation, a separation from academics and sports, etc)? 

I began playing the violin when I was 7.  I wanted to play because another girl in my class played and got to be with the older kids, and I thought it would be a fun experience to try something new. After having played for so many years I have a deep appreciation for music, so being in the orchestra allowed me to partake in a musical ensemble and continue to build on the musical practice that I have had, as well as enjoy the pieces. Playing the violin is a release different from athletics, and having played in orchestra during volleyball season, it is nice to have a break from the physical training as well as be with a different group of people.

You went to Thomas Jefferson high school near D.C., which is nationally regarded for its intensive preparatory science curriculum. What made you want to study science at a liberal arts school, and do you think that the presence of many humanities and social science peers here at Swarthmore has shaped your academic experience in any notable way?

I wanted to come to a liberal arts school for the environment.  Having done research with cancer as part of my high school curriculum, my focus wasn’t to go to a big university to continue to do more research, but to grow with a different attitude of thinking.  Additionally, I wanted to have close relationships with my teachers and peers – I was overwhelmed by the idea of going to a big school. Swarthmore is known for its academics and despite being a liberal arts school I knew I could continue to grow in my scientific curiosity and education.  I think that the liberal arts ambiance has added to what TJ aimed to do in several of its classes which was to think interdisciplinarily.  The presence of social science and humanities based peers has helped me to stay balanced and to push myself to think about new ideas and to approach them differently.

Can you think of one leader in your life that has stuck out to you in a remarkable way? Why do you think this is so, and what are some of the qualities/practices/skills that this person exhibits?

My grandfather is one of my biggest inspirations. He is a Swarthmore alum, having come to the school from Venezuela at 16.  He played a big part in why I applied to the school as he has always been someone that I look up to.  This is in part because of his attitude – dignified and intelligent, but also appreciating the funny things in life. He has always been dedicated to his family and I admire not only his wisdom with regard to the world, but also how much he cares. I grew up listening to how he and my grandmother valued community engagement, and of their leadership in various groups for themselves and for their children. He consistently puts others first and I aspire to be like him.

As a four-year member of the varsity volleyball team, what do you think was something that you needed to learn when coming into college when learning to balance athletics and academics?

Definitely time management, and how to manage different practice times, or long games, or sometimes entire days of games.

You visit Puerto Rico a lot to see members of your family. What is your favorite thing to do there?

[laughs] Probably eat! There are so many good foods there.

What’s your favorite Puerto Rican food?

If I were to choose I would probably say pastelillos, which are basically the Puerto Rican version of empanadas. They’re fried and they have either meat or cheese or pizza flavors. They’re really good.

You’ve lived in a bunch of different dorms while at Swarthmore. Where have you lived, which was your favorite, and why?

I lived in Parrish, Roberts, Worth, and Wharton, and I’d have to say my favorite dorm was Worth. I really liked the social aspect of it, being able to make new friends and be able to come back to my room at night and hang out with people.

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