Lia Petrose


There were ten students in my first Honors course, a Neuroscience Research Topics course, and I was quickly disabused of the notion that a student’s role in a classroom was to simply listen. There were occasional lectures, but the students spoke for the majority of class time, answering one another’s questions, raising objections, and bringing their own perspectives to the material. Because we opened course topics with discussions of scientific inquiries, rather than with the presentation of facts, I saw the material as answers to intriguing questions rather than a catalog of information for me to carry to the final exam. I subsequently sought other courses that challenged me similarly.

I now nurture a variety of academic and extracurricular interests, pursuing majors in Neuroscience, Economics, and International & Area Studies. The breadth of my studies, encouraged and made possible by the University Honors College, has fostered my interest in multifaceted approaches to improving healthcare delivery in the developing world. In addition to pursuing an expanded academic curriculum, I traveled twice to Lilongwe, Malawi on a UHC grant to conduct independent research on the cost-effectiveness of digital electronic medical records. In the remainder of my summers, I worked with cardiologists at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine using cardiac MRI to identify risk factors in the HIV population. Through both the broadening of my course enrollment and the facilitation of international and domestic research, I witnessed firsthand the disparities in healthcare quality and delivery around the world.

Outside of the classroom, I hold an elected position on the Student Government Board, serving as one of eight Board Members who represent Pitt’s 18,000 undergraduates in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. The experiences I gained serving in this role promoted my budding interest in policy. With help from The National Scholarships office, I applied to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which recognizes juniors with promising academic potential, outstanding leadership, and a commitment to public service, and was named a 2016 Truman Scholar. As I continue my undergraduate education, I will serve as the 2016-17 Pitt-in-Cambridge Scholar, studying the natural sciences at Jesus College, University of Cambridge. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the Honors College and the University, both of which have been instrumental in my personal and professional development. After graduation, I hope to continue my work in public service by pursuing a dual career in medicine and health policy research.