2014 Shaping the Future

Reflecting on how experiences can shape dreams

In everyone’s life there are pivotal moments that could change the future, but whether or not they do depends on recognizing their meaning and value. Grasping the significance of such moments is what makes Connie Chen Shao a true achiever.

Connie ShaoBoasting a stellar academic record, experience in student leadership and a solid varsity swim team record in high school, Shao was a candidate for top-notch universities.

But these facts about Shao didn’t tell the whole story of who she was at 18 and what shaped her decision to choose Washington University. Now ready to graduate, Shao connects the dots:

If she hadn’t had a brilliant high school biology teacher who opened her eyes to the miracle that is the human body…

If her father’s illness and subsequent treatment failures hadn’t left her frustrated to find answers….

Those, and many more “if’s” came together in a nuanced perfect storm for Shao to recognize that WUSTL was the place to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor.

Because Shao chose Washington University, received an Ervin Scholarship, participated in the pre-freshman Summer Science program, decided on biomedical engineering as her major, and worked on pioneering research in a lab, today she is the person her 18-year-old self had dreams of becoming.

Now she is poised for another amazing journey of discoveries — one that may have far-reaching consequences on the lives of those suffering from illness and disease — at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. Her area of specialization? She’s waiting for experience to point the way.

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