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Two Bioengineering seniors receive the Knights of St. Patrick Award

Huan Song
5/15/2020 2:08:27 PM

The Knights of St. Patrick Award is presented annually to students from The Grainger College of Engineering who exhibit leadership, excellence in character, and exceptional contribution to the college and its students. Two Bioengineering seniors, Faisal Masood and Diana Slater join the ranks of knights from the University of Illinois dating back to 1950. 

A common thread for both awardees is the importance of mentorship in their successes.

Slater participated in the Women In Engineering (WIE) Freshman Orientation to help her adjust to college. She enjoyed her experience so much that she became a WIE ambassador and lead orientations as a student mentor every summer following her freshman year. 

"I wanted to support incoming girls because I know what it feels like to feel nervous coming from a small hometown to a school of over 40,000 students," she said. 

Slater advises students to lean into the university's support network. "There are many people who want to see you succeed and will go out of their way to help." She wants to recognize her mentors from WIE, alumnus Shrey Maheshwari and Elisabeth Rhode from BMES and her graduate mentor Marley Dewey in her research lab.

Masood, who also received the 2020 Student Employee of the Year award, was able to mentor and teach underclassmen for the past four semesters in BIOE 202, Cell and Tissue Engineering Lab. 

"I always had great mentors to look up to and who had gone the extra mile to facilitate my interests and passions," he said. "If we continue to adopt a pay-it-forward mentality, the whole culture of engineering will be much more positive." 

Both students also reached beyond their academic community to foster relationships and share their expertise. 

"A few of us realized that high schools immediately bordering the university had great access to its resources. However, schools in rural areas, even just a 30-minute drive away, have a fraction of the resources and technology," said Masood. 

He, along with several engineering students, converted MRI files into 3-D printed anatomy and physiology models to provide high school students with the materials they need for hands-on learning. He said, "a priority for me is to use my engineering skills to help those around me."

This fall, Masood will be attending the University of Illinois School of Medicine as a part of the Innovation in Medicine Program (IMED). "As a future physician, I hope to be a bridge for innovation between clinicians, engineers, and lab-based scientists," he said. 

Slater currently serves as the president of the undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) which supports bioengineering students academically, socially and professionally. 

"BMES helped to jumpstart my leadership," she said. In her freshman year, Slater participated in the BMES mentorship program as a mentee. She then became a mentor in her sophomore year and served as the Industrial Relations Director in her junior year. The main responsibility of the role was to contact companies, speak with recruiters and host professional development and networking events for her peers. 

"Throughout my four years, I have gained confidence in my abilities to serve and to lead. Receiving this award is a validation that you don't have to start at 100%. There is a lot of room for growth." 

Slater will be moving to San Francisco in August to take a position with Genetech in the Operations Rotation Development Program. " I'm excited to see how far I've come and ready to take what I've learned at Illinois to into the future."

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