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Sciences open new worlds for honors student


November 23, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is part of a series that looks at outstanding undergraduate students who exemplify ASU excellence.

It’s a conundrum of the classically curious: What career is best to choose when there are so many interesting subjects out there?

Jacqueline Fitton is an ASU senior from Palmdale, Calif., who originally started her college career as a kinesiology major, but switched to biological sciences when she realized she enjoyed science on a cellular level rather than the application of scientific practices. Problem is, every science class that Fitton takes fascinates her, opening up new worlds and opportunities for careers in the future.

“Everyone says that I’m too excited about science," Fitton says. "Every time I take a class, I say ‘this is my favorite class.’”

Options that she is currently weighing after she earns her bachelor’s degree include going for her doctorate in molecular cellular biology, working on a science and technology policy masters, or attending medical school.

“I’m also working in a biomedical engineering lab now in the visuomotor laboratory,” she said. “We’re doing research on the variability in arm movement.”

Fitton’s attitude will serve her well if she pursues a scientific career after graduation.

“Many scientific problems these days, particularly those that have been termed grand challenges require interdisciplinary approaches to solve them. Having a natural curiosity about different types of science therefore fits very naturally with this approach,” says Christopher Buneo, assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, who works with Fitton in the Visuomotor Learning Laboratory.  

Work that takes place in the lab examines inherent variability in movement. The lab team examines movement through neurophysiology, movement studies and computer modeling and simulation.

Although the world is basically wide open as far as a future career is concerned, Fitton is certain that she made the right choice when she decided to come to ASU and join the community at Barrett, the Honors College.

“I fell in love with the campus," Fitton says. "I loved that everything was so green. It was awesome to see all the people and how everyone got along with each other. It was just very cool.”

Fitton’s initial experience touring ASU was so positive that it made her want to become a Devil’s Advocate and lead tours around campus. She did exactly that and now tells prospective students what ASU offers and how to make college a great experience. Getting involved is her primary advice, whether working on research projects, interacting with professors or joining a club or two out of the university’s more than 600 organizations. It’s also important to take the initiative to find people who share interests and make academic endeavors an exciting collaboration between professors and students.

“College is what you make of it. I always run into my friends on campus,” she says. “Everyone knows each other because everyone gets involved.”

Fitton has made the best of her college years by working on activities such as Homecoming, joining the Health and Counseling Student Action Committee, working as a programmer in the Residence Hall Association and being a part of Student Emergency Medical Services.

“It’s really cool to see the people at ASU making a difference in the world in their own way,” she says.

Making a difference in people’s lives took on new meaning for Fitton this past summer when she traveled to Peru for six weeks to volunteer in hospitals and provide basic health care to people in rural areas of the country. She learned about the Peruvian culture and worked in hospitals that were clean, but not as technically advanced as those in the United States. Working in the rural areas of the country was especially gratifying.

“We provided health care for families who don’t have the opportunity to go to a hospital. That was an awesome experience,” she says. “They were so happy to be treated and just grateful to be seen.”

Julie Newberg
Media Relations
julie.newberg@asu.edu