Min Son ’20 and Erin Saybolt ’20
Min Son is a truly remarkable student, the kind whose academic excellence makes you wonder how she has time for anything else. But Min’s high GPA is just the tip of the iceberg of her diligence and success.
In helping nominate Min for this award, Talia Argondezzi, director of the writing and speaking program here at Ursinus, put it this way: “[Min’s] unusual promise manifests in her ability to turn her passions into concrete action.” Talia is exactly right. Min makes it her job to dream big and then make her dreams a reality.
A biology major with a minor in applied ethics, Min dreams of one day becoming a dental surgeon and starting a nonprofit through which dentists will volunteer in underserved immigrant communities. It’s a lofty goal, one toward which Min has already taken enormous steps. For example, she has attended multiple medical and leadership conferences across the country and has accumulated over 100 hours of experience as a dental assistant in three different practices.
With the competition to get into dental school as cutthroat as it is, most students are content to keep their heads down and get as far ahead as possible, with little thought for their classmates’ success. But not Min. In 2017, she founded the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) with the goal of providing assistance to her fellow students in the form of free MCAT practice exams, application workshops, and events with the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Not satisfied with simply assisting others to get into medical school, Min then created an educational outreach program in which she and the members of MAPS taught students in underprivileged communities about public health.
On campus, Min is active in nearly every selective, prestigious student position Ursinus has: she is a Writing Fellow, tutoring peers in writing and speaking; a UCARE Service Fellow, engaging the campus with volunteer opportunities; a CSCG Fellow, studying the intersections between science and the public interest; and a Melrose Fellow. She’s worked as an organic chemistry tutor, appeared on the Dean’s List four years in a row, and won the Steinbright Scholarship, the W. W. Smith Scholarship and the Biology/Biochemistry Department Faculty Award. And the list just keeps going.
But Min is so much more than her list of accomplishments. As Talia describes her, Min is “someone you trust to complete a project thoughtfully and thoroughly; brimming with enthusiasm and joy, quick to share her distinctive, contagious laugh, she is someone you simply want around.” Min shares this enthusiasm in countless ways. An immigrant and recently naturalized citizen, Min is eager to help other students feel welcome. For example, she has served as a volunteer for Ursinus’s English as a Second Language Program, and in 2018 she performed in Ursinus’s Diversity Monologues, sharing her experiences with ethnicity and identity. As founder and president of the Heart and Seoul Korean Culture Club and a leader in the Japan Club, Min has spread her love of Japanese and Korean cultures around campus, both empowering and educating her fellow students in the process.
Most recently, Min won third place in the 2020 Richard T. Schellhase Ethics Essay contest for her essay “Fill the Gap: Assessing moral permissibility of rejections in dental practices, and promoting pro bono dental work through a non-profit organization.” This paper was the culmination of her 2019 Summer Fellows project in which she spent considerable time reading and thinking about whether dentists have ethical obligations to provide pro bono care. Min did really superb work on this topic, going on present at a professional dentistry conference in New York in December 2019—a conference that rarely accepts undergraduate work.
In everything she has done the past four years, both on and off campus, Min has proven her intelligence, her thoughtfulness, her persistence, her passion and her genuine care for those around her. For all she has accomplished for herself and done for her college and community, we happily present her with the 2020 Senior Alumni Award.
Erin Saybolt is one of the best students you could ever hope to encounter. She is an insightful, confident and engaged student; a skilled writer; a poised public speaker; and a phenomenal field hockey player. She is more than deserving of this recognition.
Erin is a biology major with a minor in politics and applied ethics. The high grades and honors she has received certainly attest to her hard work and intelligence—winner of the faculty prize in biology, member of the Whitian Honors Society, president of the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. But it is what Erin chooses to do with her knowledge that is more impressive. She is eager to apply her skills to real-world problems and actively seeks opportunities to gain hands-on biology experience. While taking a biomedical ethics course, for example, Erin became interested in the issue of “rescue siblings”—children born for the key purpose of becoming bone marrow donors for older siblings. She immersed herself in additional readings and research on the subject and ultimately produced a carefully argued, well-reasoned paper that was the best in the class. Erin cares about the issues she has studied here at Ursinus, and she will use her intelligence and passion for the good of others.
Indeed, she has already begun to do so as a biology student instructor, a pharmaceutical market research intern, a research assistant in the biology department with Dr. Beth Bailey and an intern at the Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues in Washington, D.C. For her most recent endeavor as a biomedical innovation intern for the National Institutes of Health’s Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing website, Erin applies her reasoning and writing skills to craft blog posts and articles about a variety of scientific issues.
More than just an academic, Erin’s accomplishments on the field have been equally as impressive. As a starting member of the Ursinus women’s field hockey team since her freshman year, Erin has scored goal after goal and assist after assist, all while exuding positivity and good sportsmanship. In 2016 she was named the Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year, and in 2017 she won the Centennial Conference Sportsmanship Award. Unsurprisingly, after two such successful seasons, Erin became captain of the team for her junior and senior years.
A proud Bear herself, Erin has spent the last three years sharing her love of Ursinus College with prospective students and their families as a tour guide. In 2018, she was named Head Gold Ambassador and took on the additional responsibility of admissions visit coordinator, becoming an Admissions Senior Fellow in 2019. In this role, she interviews prospective students and facilitates information sessions for them and their families.
After graduation, Erin plans to work on science policy with an ethics focus. She also hopes to pursue a master’s degree in policy as well as a juris doctorate.
Whatever she chooses to do next, Erin has a remarkable multi-disciplinary toolkit that will take her far. She is proficient with analyzing empirical data, constructing solid philosophical and ethical arguments and interviewing and working with a diverse set of people. A morally serious, analytically acute, broadly omni-capable student, Erin is committed to better and more just public health and to richer public dialogue about the moral implications of scientific research and discovery. She is exceptionally smart, self-disciplined and highly socially skilled.
Erin, you represent Ursinus at its best, and as such, we are delighted to present you with the 2020 Senior Alumni Award.