Katherine is sitting under an iconic Jacaranda tree at UQ's St Lucia campus.
Katherine is sitting under an iconic Jacaranda tree at UQ's St Lucia campus.
Program: Bachelor of Science (Major in Genetics)
Country of Origin: Singapore
Why did you decide to study in Australia and specifically at UQ?
I decided to study in Australia because I wanted to further my studies in a different environment and Australia is fairly close to Singapore. In my previous experience, studying in Singapore can be pretty stressful because of the ongoing competition amongst students, striving to be the best in order to top the cohort. I don't want to be in an environment where my peers see me as a competition.  I wanted to be in an environment where we don't compete who received the best score as I feel that knowledge can't be exchanged freely with all the competition. If you ever come across the term 'The Go8', you will know that UQ is one of Australia's leading universities. However, that was not the sole reason why I chose to study at UQ. In general, my passion in life has always been to know more about the origin of life. How living organisms function and appreciating the relatedness amongst all living organisms (i.e. Genetics). UQ (St Lucia) offers a Bachelor of Science degree which has a list of majors to choose from. I chose UQ because I had the option to major in Genetics in one of Australia's top universities with lecturers I know I can depend on and facilities which will further improve my practical skills in the lab. UQ (St Lucia). Knowing that I am in safe hands, I went ahead and submitted my application as an international student in UQ.
Is studying in Australia what you expected it to be and why/why not?
As previously mentioned, I expected that there will be less competition amongst peers such that we could all support each other to perform our best in UQ. In my own personal experience, my friends and peers were all very supportive. Some of them even set up a Facebook page so that all students in the course could ask each other questions to clarify their doubts. The lecturers will also provide help at the end of every lecture or through emails and that benefited me a lot as it helps to clarify doubts that I have. Having to plan my own timetable was unexpected as I did not have to sign on for courses in the past, they were organized and given to me and I just had to attend classes with the list that was given to me. It was quite stressful to plan my own timetable at first; but in the second semester, I got used to it.
What do you enjoy most about your program and why?
I enjoy the flexibility of being able to choose the courses I am interested in for my program and learning more about the current and possible future scientific knowledge related to my interests and passion. For example, 'Human molecular genetics and disease' taught me about a suite of genetic diseases and the ongoing research to provide better treatment for these individuals. 'Molecular Cell Biology' and 'Genomics and Bioinformatics' taught me about which methodology or tool is suitable in a specific experiment. The list of courses that I enjoy continues. However, an important thing to note is to always choose a university that provides a program with a list of courses that complements your interests. For me, university life is definitely stressful and I once felt like giving up a few times due to the accumulated stress from assignments and exams. However, the courses that I did in UQ were relevant with what I've always wanted to understand and most importantly what I am passionate about. A quote from Charles Darwin always helped me to get through my toughest times in UQ: ''It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change.'' I hope it helps the students who wish to come to UQ in the future as well.
What would you like to do after graduation and what skills have you gained from your program which will allow you to pursue your goal?
I always felt that the lives of diseased patients can be improved and that all diseases should be curable (just that researchers haven't found the solution). When I was studying in Republic Polytechnic (Singapore), I gained a little insight of various genetic disorders. In UQ, I gained more knowledge about the symptoms, treatment and management of these diseases such as, how the disease progresses and subsequently the theoretical and practical applications of developing effective treatment strategies. Throughout my studies in UQ, I have learnt the appropriate way to search for research papers which is an important skill to have when writing up a literature review or finding the most appropriate experimental method to conduct an experiment. I also acquired practical skills such as fluorescent staining to view the 'skeleton' of the cell and using the CLC genomics workbench to compare whole genome sequences of different Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) strains which will definitely help me in the future as the ongoing development of useful bioinformatics tools will aid in future research. I intend to gain more practical experience by working in Singapore and pursuing my Masters degree back in Australia in a few years' time. My ultimate goal will be to gain enough industrial experience and theoretical knowledge such that I can propogate what I have learnt by teaching tertiary students and hopefully inspire them to pursue a career in science.

For more information on this program, please click here