Amy Lai in the lab

Amy Lai


Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Amy is taking part in the pre-med advising program, which helps her connect with other students interested in a career in medicine, as well as prepare for med school applications and take classes that cover subjects found on the MCAT.

How did you find out about the pre-med program?

I found out about the pre-med program through the involvement fair my freshman year. I was introduced to our American Medical Student Association and soon after started getting involved with the club. I was further informed about the program through pre-health seminar, a class offered by the school.

How did you get started?

I started getting involved with the pre-med program by joining AMSA my freshman year and participating in the events and activities that the club held. I decided to run for secretary my sophomore year and am currently the Vice President of the club. I honestly think it was one of the best decisions I have made thus far.

What has been the most valuable part of your experience?

The most valuable part of the pre-med program is making connections with my fellow pre-med peers through AMSA. AMSA has become a community of students who share the same passion so it’s a nice place to be surrounded by peers that have the same interests and support you. AMSA is also a great place for lower classmen to get “tips and tricks” from upperclassmen that have experience with upper division science course, MCATs, and med school applications.

Have you taken any research or internship opportunities?

Through our former organic chemistry professor, John Tannaci, I was able to partake in a clinical internship with UCLA where I shadow medical practitioners. I have been shadowing two UCLA pulmonologists consistently since the summer of my freshman year. This experience has been an eye-opener to not only how hard it is to be a doctor, but how worthwhile this profession is. Seeing the patients each week brings me great joy and has solidified my desire to become a doctor.

In addition, I started research during the summer of 2015 under the mentorship of my biochemistry professor, Dennis Revie, in the field of Hepatitis C. Even though I know that I will not pursue research in the future, my interest towards virology has grown and I find myself constantly fascinated by this virus that a cure has yet to be found for. I constantly find myself excited in research when my fellow researchers and I find that our cells have successfully been infected or our methodology for our fluorescent microscopy yields clear images.

Do you have any advice for future pre-med students?

My biggest advice to future pre-med students is to get involved in anything and everything they find. I advise them to find internships as soon as possible. The first thing I tell any pre-med student I meet is to discover if this is really the field you want to pursue by working in clinics or the hospital because I always say, “How can you know that you want to be a doctor if you have yet to experience what it’s like to be a doctor?”

Also, start early. There are so many things to do and so little time. You need to start making a story for yourself at the beginning of freshman year. I do not say this to scare pre-meds away, but it is very important to start thinking about what you want your experiences to tell about you because that’s most likely the first thing interviewers for med school will ask you about. Also, find your passion. Once you find an area of medicine that you love, it’ll be easier to persevere towards that goal.

That’s it for now. Good luck, pre-meds!