Faisal Masood receives the 2020 Student Employee of the Year Award


Huan Song

Faisal Masood, Bioengineering senior, has been named the 2020 Student Employee of the Year for his laboratory assistant role in BIOE 202, Cell and Tissue Engineering Lab. He was nominated by Teaching Assistant Professor Karin Jensen.  Most recently, he played an instrumental role in developing virtual labs and a virtual lab practical as the class moved to instruction online.

Jensen writes, "Faisal is an exceptional student employee who has made significant contributions to the educational experience of hundreds of students and has garnered the highest respect from all members of our instructional team. Faisal’s contributions to our college will continue to have an impact for many years."

The Office of Student Financial Aid awards one undergraduate employee out of 10,000 student employees on campus. 

“I'm very honored that I was individually recognized for this award, but I can't deserve all the credit because of the amazing team that I work with,” Masood said. "Professor Jensen has been so instrumental in many parts of my college experience and she's always there to support us. Professor Perez-Pinera is always willing to go above and beyond and provides a lot of technical expertise." 

Masood also wants to give a special mention to Benjamin David, who was the 2019 Student Employee of the Year Runner Up. "We started this job at the same time and we work together very closely. He's a great friend and peer." 

Masood's first job at the university was as a Bioengineering Ambassador during his sophomore year when he represented the department and supported faculty and student recruitment. He started the lab assistantship during the fall of his junior year and is now wrapping up his fourth semester in this role.

Masood applied for this position because of his interest in teaching and interacting with students. "When I was a freshman and sophomore, I had great experiences with junior and senior mentors and wanted to pass it forward," he said.

For Masood, the main responsibility of his role is to motivate and teach the students to work safely in a lab. He feels most fulfilled when he's able to identify what students are struggling with and work with them to build confidence and competence. 

"Every semester has been a learning experience and I've grown so much," said Masood. Masood was able to progress his skills as a researcher and equally importantly, cultivate soft skills in mentorship and time management. "This role has got me into the habit of planning ahead every week and I think that translated to my success in classes. I'm sure this habit will also help me in the future," he said.

Masood will be attending the University of Illinois College of Medicine this Fall. 

Originally from Pakistan, Masood moved to the US when he was in kindergarten so his parents could help take care of his maternal grandmother. "That was really my first introduction to healthcare and caring for someone in general. It ignited a spark in me to help others," he said.  

Throughout his academic career, Masood developed a love for math, science and engineering. This undergraduate degree in bioengineering allows him to nurture multiple interests and pursue a future that combines his passions. "Ultimately, I want to use all of my training to be that compassionate caretaker who guides someone from illness to a clean bill of health."