Spring Campus

Q&A with Jihoon Jun, BA in Biology

Jihoon Jun is currently enrolled in the biology program and will be graduating in 2023. Learn about his experience in the program.

Jihoon JunQ: What is your major, and when are you graduating?

I’m a Biology major on the Predental track, graduating in 2023.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue this major?

Knowing I wanted to take a Pre-Health/Dental path, I initially came into Northeastern as a chemistry major – a subject I was passionate about in high school. However, I realized that the wide facets of chemistry weren’t as interesting to me, so I decided to explore a different field. In high school, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the finite biology curriculum.

It was through the College of Science curriculum, including the plethora of courses and research projects I took part in, that I realized my true passions were, in fact, rooted in biology.

Q: What did you decide to enroll at the College of Science at Northeastern?

I was very hesitant coming into college. I firmly envisioned myself in a health profession, but I didn’t know exactly what my future endeavors were. I found that the College of Science gave me the freedom to explore various fields and majors so that I could find my passion. And that’s what prompted me to enroll in the College of Science at Northeastern.

Q: Tell us about your co-op experience at Tufts Medical Center. What did you do during your time there?

For my first co-op, I worked in the Emergency Room at Tufts Medical Center. My assigned role was a Unit Coordinator/Nursing Service Assistant (UC/NSA). Half of the days would be at the desk where the ER would essentially “run through me”.

This included directing patient placements across the hospital, paging various residents and doctors for nurses, physician assistants, and providers, as well as communicating with various ambulances and MedFlight.

The other half of my time was more patient-based. I worked alongside doctors and nurses to assist them with cases that could range anywhere from a small cut to various levels of trauma.

Q: What was your most rewarding moment from this co-op experience?

The number one question or comment I get asked from my peers is, “you’re dental, so why the ER?”. I’ve always wanted to see what it was like working in an ER, and I think that’s the beauty of Northeastern co-ops. The majority of upperclassmen I’ve talked to stated that they used their first co-op to experience a new field and get a firm affirmation or refutation of whether this would be something they wanted to pursue.

The most rewarding aspect of my co-op had to have been the connections I made in the ER. During the first week, I distinctly remember having the mindset of just forcefully pushing through for six months and applying for a more dental-focused co-op next time. But I can’t emphasize enough how welcoming the whole ER team was to me.

Every single person would greet one another, and because the environment was so demanding, our co-op advisors would consistently check in with not only the students like me, but also the nurses and providers. There was a true spirit teamwork and harmony that existed between everyone involved.
We did get various dental cases in the ER, so I made sure to introduce myself to all the dental residents. It all started with a simple “hello” but got to the point where I shook hands with some and even exchanged contact information with others. The connections I made are so invaluable and my experience at Tufts Medical Center exceeded my hopes and expectations.

Q: How do you believe this co-op will enhance your overall COS experience?

One of my Biochemistry professors at Northeastern stated at the beginning of the semester: “However much you put in, you’ll get that much in return.” I was able to truly understand this during my time at Tufts Medical Center.

For example, after one of my routine 12-hour shifts at the ER, I was ready to go home and rest (as one can expect). However, the moment I was ready to clock out, a 76-year-old woman came in with severe facial trauma. The local resident on call for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery was an individual who I gradually grew very close with. The resident saw me packed up, and asked if I wanted to hop into the room with him.

The resident allowed me to assist him in the room, watching him communicate a plan for treating his patient with his chief. After two hours, the woman’s smile was restored. It was quite intriguing since this type of experience was not something I thought I’d ever see in an ER. If I had gone home that day, I would’ve lost the valuable chance to assist with the dental emergency patient.

Seeing that my first co-op and COS professors all embody such a true principle regarding effort and results affirms that I’m in the right college here at Northeastern. It only makes me look forward to the positive I’ll have at my second co-op.

Q: Tell us about your campus involvement, including leading the Northeastern Pre-Dental Association.

This year I have the privilege and honor of leading the Northeastern Pre-Dental Association as the president. Our club is filled with passionate leaders and members who encourage and guide each other. We host a variety of activities including lectures from guest doctors, Q&A sessions with various dental schools across the country, and our own co-op student panel to get student perspectives. I’m proud to be part of a club that’s so dedicated to its members.

Q: Are you currently involved with any research opportunities?

I work closely with the American Lung Cancer Screening Initiative, a team that advocates for the importance of lung cancer awareness as well as lung cancer screening. Although not necessarily traditional lab work, I found that our team’s nationwide presence, as well as presence within the political world, was something I couldn’t miss out on.

Being able to leave our research effort’s marks within the political world through State Proclamations as well as House and Senate Resolutions are only some of the many attributes our organization has achieved.

I also have the responsibility of leading the design and creation of our team’s website, as well as coordinating events when hosting various doctors and organizations.

Moreover, I am working with my close mentors from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital on another research project looking to implement AI within lung surgeries. We are currently working alongside schools, such as the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and are awaiting a possible publication!

Q: What are your plans for the summer?

My plans for the summer are to complete my second co-op at Carr Dental Assocations, during which I’ll be a licensed Dental Assistant.
The dental co-ops on the Northeastern Database are very limited, primarily due to location, and so I wanted to attempt to create one. I started by simply searching “Dentists near Me” on the internet. I emailed multiple offices I was interested in; however, I didn’t get many replies. I was very distraught.

But I then remembered the dental residents I worked alongside at Tufts Medical Center ER and through their connections I awas referred to the office manager of Carr Dental Associates. Tt’s without a doubt that I realized my sacrifices and experiences at Tufts were paying off.

I received an interview opportunity at Carr Dental Associates and earned the doctor’s trust to go create a co-op for the Fall. I’m excited to work alongside the various doctors at the practice and to share the wonderful stories and experiences upon completion at the end of the year.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

From my past experiences at Northeastern, the one phrase that helped me a lot through stressful times was “you’re doing well.” And so, whether I’m saying it as an upperclassman to a student or a fellow peer, I want to encourage you that “you’re doing well”. That one grade, one class is not going to define who you are unless you let it.

With that, I’d also love to thank my co-op Professor Tina Mello, as well as Ms. Elizabeth Merino, for being so patient with me while I tried to express my experiences as best as I could- I’m truly grateful and honored!

Looking forward to possibly seeing some of you around campus!