Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, MacKenzie. We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
I’ve known I wanted to be in the medical field since I was 14. After a few bad falls at gymnastics practice leaving me in the emergency room, I had gotten to know my orthopedic surgeon quite well. I thought his job was so interesting and was fascinated by the tools he used. I later discovered biomedical engineering when a visiting professor came to our high school physics class and handed me a hip implant. From that day forward, I knew biomedical engineering was for me and haven’t looked back!
What or who inspired you to pursue your career?
After studying biomedical engineering, I knew that I loved the medical field and wanted to stay in it. However, after school, the job I landed, while not exactly what I expected, was in a data sciences department. One of the clinical studies I was working on had a wearable device with it that tracked Parkinson’s information (how aggressive a tremor was, how long it lasted, etc). I may or may not have spent most of my workday looking into the technology of the device and reading the publications and patent information on it, rather than doing my actual work. From there, I realized that I wanted to work on the algorithm development of these wearable devices and worked my way to landing a job in that space.
What is one thing you are most proud of achieving in your life, MacKenzie?
There are two things that come to mind for me, but I really could not have done one without the other. Following my high school graduation, I chose to attend Purdue University and study biomedical engineering while simultaneously training as a part of the Varsity Diving team. Juggling two huge commitments was immensely difficult, but my goal to make the Olympic diving team was just as important to me as graduating from biomedical engineering. Several years of dedication, commitment, and a lot of hard work, I graduated with a BSBME and competed at the Olympic Trials just a few week later. While I missed qualifying to the Olympic team, being at that meet, just a few weeks after graduating from an extremely challenging major, was icing on the cake.
What do you enjoy most about teaching/tutoring?
I enjoy many things about tutoring! However, I think my favorite is “hearing” that click – when a concept you’ve been working hard with your student on finally makes sense. The student’s excitement coupled with my own makes it really exciting and motivating to continue working together.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I really love to work out and cook/bake! I’ve been a lifelong athlete and since transitioning out of college athletics and organized “practices,” it’s been a challenge to fill that gap. Lately though, I’ve been finding enjoyment out of cycling and swimming. Cycling has been a really great way for me to see the city and meet new people, as well!
Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?
The best trip I ever took was to South Africa! I’ve been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit, but South Africa was unlike any place I’ve ever been to before. The people were incredible and welcoming. It was obvious that they loved their country so much and wanted to share that love. While there, I was able to go on safaris and learn about conservation efforts, observe beautiful animals in their natural habitat, and try unique foods.
Is there something exciting you are working on now? What is it and why did you choose to start it?
My full-time job is working for a medical tech startup called physIQ. It’s a really cool company that aims to use wearable devices and personalized analytics to monitor people’s health. Right now, we’ve been working on predicting COVID degradation. While the global pandemic has been impacting so many negatively, it’s been really exciting to work on a project that could have some serious positive impact on the well-being of others.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? What is it and why did it resonate with you?
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult was one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. It brought up some moral questions of genetic engineering and technology versus human life. While it wasn’t a life-changing impactful book, I recall reading it for the first time and realizing that for every problem technology and science fix, they create another.
The road to success is difficult and requires tremendous dedication. What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
As a freshman in college, I remember having a horrible week of exams and practice (I was a member of the Varsity swimming and diving team). I also remember none of the exams having gone superbly well, even after studying for hours on end and my stress from the exams had trickled into causing some really frustrating practices. My teammate and mentor point-blank looked me in the eye and told me “It never gets better, you just get used to it.” At the time, it was probably one of the most traumatizing responses I could have heard. However, now, years later, I now smile when I think of that interaction and really believe that it was a great piece of advice that I would echo to others. Things never really get any easier – work is hard, relationships are hard, balance is hard, school is hard – life is just hard. It doesn’t ever get any easier, but you learn to work through it and how to push through. It takes time, but it’s worth it.