Meet our scholarship recipients: Anita Li

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Anita Li is a 2020 recipient of the Keck School of Medicine scholarship for incoming master’s students. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Biostatistics degree at USC.

What has been your journey over the last few years?

Anita Li (Image courtesy Anita Li)

I earned my bachelor’s degree at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. I majored in biomedical engineering with a focus on biomechanics and medical devices. Apart from taking the core courses for biomedical engineering, I also minored in mathematics.

What drives you to get involved in the population and public health sciences field?

Two years ago, I received my first flu shot ever. At first, I did not expect the flu shot to work at all because I used to catch the flu every year. To my surprise, it did protect me from getting sick for the rest of the year, so I started wondering how flu shots are made to meet the preventive purpose for public health. Time flew and Christmas came. At my family’s holiday party, I met a USC alumnus named Kevin, who earned his PhD in Biostatistics. When I mentioned the magic of flu shots, he laughed and explained that the WHO uses analytical skills in biostatistics to recommend vaccine viruses for the upcoming season based on the results of laboratory and clinical studies. The power of biostatistics instantly sparked my interest. I became passionate about exploring more possibilities in applying knowledge to preventive medicine and public health improvements.

What made you choose the biostatistics program at USC?

My goal is to earn a PhD degree in the future and work as a biostatistician in a pharmaceutical company in order to develop preventive medicine. The curriculum of USC’s Master’s program in Biostatistics is essential for me to better fulfill my career goals. USC is famed for its focus on research, experiential learning and diversity. These great characteristics align with my personal philosophy. I admire USC’s focus on training in-demand skills and applying real-world practices during the master’s thesis project, which coincides with my problem-solving mindset. I believe studying at USC will enable me to apply what I learn in the classroom to resolving issues in reality and promoting the public health.

What does this scholarship mean to you?

Education is expensive, especially under the tremendous impact of COVID-19. My parents’ business had been disrupted for months by the pandemic when I received the offer, and I had been debating with myself on whether I could afford college or not. I can’t tell how much I appreciate receiving this scholarship. I really enjoy studying the field of public health and this scholarship helps me chase my goal of being a biostatistician.

What has been your experience at USC so far?

It’s very different to study online and in the classroom, but my experience at USC so far is very good. Each professor prepared the course materials very well and explained them clearly. One thing I like the best about learning online is I can easily access the lectures recorded, helping me make up every point I missed. There are also many interesting extracurricular activities to engage in. What’s the most impressive to me is the scavenger hunt held on Keck School of Medicine’s social media. I had so much fun reading everyone’s posts regarding the prompts while staying at home.

What message would you like to share with your scholarship donor?

I want to personally thank you for the amazing scholarship you have given me. Your generosity made me able to pursue a master’s degree in Biostatistics at USC and provided me the chance to move one step closer to my career goal. This kind gift is greatly appreciated!