Mando Eijansantos is a graduate of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology who spent their time as a UCI undergraduate conducting research on radioactive bone cement for treatment of spinal metathesis under the guidance of Dr. Joyce Keyak. After returning from Fulbright studies at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Fall 2022, Mando plans to continue working on the radioactive bone cement project while pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at UCI. Mando intends to start their own research to study the effects of radiation dose on cellular mechanisms, and how these effects can be used to improve nuclear medical treatments.

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1)  If we ask one of your friends to describe you, what would they say?

When I repeated this question to a friend, they replied that I am an intelligent, headstrong, and creative leader.

I find it difficult to talk about myself because I prefer to let my traits show through my actions. I want to use my voice to empower those around me who are waiting to be heard.

2)  What life events or personal mentorships, if any, directed you to the field of study you have chosen for your future endeavors? Based on your experiences, what suggestions, if any, would you like to share with other PBK members?

My inspiration and successes were made possible under the guidance of Dr. Carl Steffan from the University of Jamestown and Dr. Joyce Keyak from UC Irvine.

Dr. Steffan answered any questions I asked, even those unrelated to class materials. He nurtured my growing love for chemistry and research, and he inspired me to major in biochemistry. After I became a lab assistant and instructed the first-year chemistry students, I found unexpected joy in helping a struggling student understand a concept for the first time. The excitement on a student’s face was infectious, and I knew that this must be why Dr. Steffan is so dedicated to the students who wanted to learn.

I’ve been working with Dr. Joyce Keyak on the Radioactive Bone Cement project since October 2019. Seeing Dr. Keyak challenge every setback with a fresh idea and a new solution has been so inspiring to me. As a mentor, she has given me the guidance and freedom to progress this project in ways that also further my own progress and career dreams. Thanks to my experiences in Dr. Keyak’s lab, I will be entering my top-choice PhD program in the fall as a capable and confident researcher.

I was able to make such powerful bonds with my mentors because I had the courage to seek their help. My chosen career path is one that none of my family members had attempted, so I recognized that when I started this journey, I still had a lot of learning to do and a lot of mistakes to make. I am so grateful that I found mentors who valued my mistakes as much as my successes, and who understood that both were essential to my personal growth.

3)  Did you ever seek information and advice from the SOP advising team? If so, what type of advice were you seeking and what was your experience with them?

Working with the SOP advising team was incredibly rewarding and motivating. With help from the SOP team, especially Mr. Brendan Park, I became a competitive candidate (and recipient!) of the 2021 Fulbright Award for Japan. The guidance from the SOP team helped me build my own bridge to dreams I thought were unattainable. I thought to myself, even if I did not receive the Fulbright scholarship, simply taking the journey through the application process with the SOP team was a huge benefit to my future. They taught me incredibly valuable methods to showcase my strengths and successes in formal applications, which allowed me to tackle graduate school and PhD applications with full confidence in myself.

To learn more about SOP and the resources available to high-achieving students visit our website.