Besher Ashouri ’18

Besher Ashouri
Alumni
Cognitive Science
2018

A cognitive science major at Oxy, Besher Ashouri is a now a student at Stanford University School of Medicine.

What inspired you to pursue a job in your industry?
I understood that my varied interests in technology, social sciences and humanities, as well as biology and other sciences, can be used in healing. I saw that physicians asked not only about patients’ pains, but also about their lifestyle, even relationships. Treatments went beyond medications to preventative counseling, like limiting alcohol consumption. Moreover, I have always been interested in innovation, so I was thrilled to see how integral research is to medicine.

What led you to choose your major?
I’m from Syria and was eager to attend medical school in the United States. With just a high school degree, I first had to go to college. Initially, this seemed like a burden, but soon I developed a great appreciation for American undergraduate education: it made sense that I should grow as a person and widen my perspectives before trying to help others. I learned much that is applicable to medicine from every course, even art history. I understood more deeply that people have perceptions and needs that are unique to them, and that we must listen and observe closely and openly to relate to each other’s problems and reach solutions. Convinced of the value of a liberal arts education and multidisciplinary approach to understanding human pain and health, I majored in cognitive science at Occidental.

What were the most important skills that you learned during your time at Oxy?
In my cognitive science research, I explored the potential of using alpha-rhythmic sounds to enhance motor coordination through induced-neural synchronization. I learned the importance of critically interpreting results in the context of their methodologies and accounting for confounding variables. This research also bolstered my growing interest in neurosurgery, especially in deep brain stimulation and optogenetics, and helped cultivate my quantitative skills through application of programming and statistics into a multidisciplinary research study combining neuroscience, psychology and computer science.

Invest in building deep and long-lasting relationships with your faculty and advisors. These relationships will pay dividends in the future, and the lessons you take from those relationships are ones that you will reflect on for years to come and will help guide you through your career.

Did any Oxy departments, faculty, alumni, or others play a role in guiding you toward your post-graduation plans?
Definitely the cognitive science department, including Professors Aleksandra Sherman and Carmel Levitan. Ms. Angela Wood from Pre-Health Advising helped prepare me for a successful medical school application cycle. She worked with me on my essays, conducted mock interviews and even engaged with me in meaningful conversations about the path I was embarking on and the role of a physician.

Looking back, what do you wish you knew about the career prep/planning as an incoming first-year?
Coming in I didn’t know about the plethora of services available to us as students, especially pre-med students. The med school application cycle and the MCAT can be very time-consuming and stressful, but Oxy has the right resources to guide every student through the process.

Any advice for current students at Oxy?
Invest in building deep and long-lasting relationships with your faculty and advisors. These relationships will pay dividends in the future, and the lessons you take from those relationships are ones that you will reflect on for years to come and will help guide you through your career.

 

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