Informational Interview with Sara Sabihi

1. Why did you select this individual to interview?

I selected the graduate student from my lab, Sara Sabihi to interview. I did this because although I have talked to several physicians and health care staff about their career, I wanted to get insight from someone in a different field, academia. I feel it is important to explore all of the options available in order to make an informed decision.

2. Describe the major responsibilities associated with their current role.

Sara has many responsibilities as a graduate student and she was able to provide me with a lot of information about what it is truly like to be a graduate student day in and day out. On top of designing experiments and planning projects, she completes all aspects of each research project including surgeries, ordering animals, slicing brains, mounting brain slices, staining and counting cells, analyzing data, writing up papers for publication, and managing a team of undergrads.

3. Discuss how the person prepared for this role, and if they provided you with any advice as what you might be able to do to prepare for a similar career.

Sara said that she originally was preparing for dental school, but found that her interests changed and she decided to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience. As a result, she emphasized the importance of research during undergrad and suggested that I continue my involvement in lab if I decide a career in research is right for me. She suggested that I also take classes that are related to neuroscience but different, in order to gain experience in fields that I previously would not have thought of. Sara was very clear that I should only pursue graduate school if I am absolutely certain that I love research, since graduate school is so long and arduous.

4. Summarize any insights from the interview that might be helpful in your academic or career preparation.

From talking to Sara during the interview and on a repeated basis, I have gotten a much better understanding of what it is like to actually pursue a PhD in neuroscience. Many undergraduate students do not have an entire grasp on all of the different responsibilities of a graduate student. Just because you have an interest in a certain field and like research doesn’t mean it’s something that you should do forever. I have realized that a career in health care working with patients is better suited for me.

Major Service Project

Major Service Project Prompts

  1. Describe your involvement with this organization

For my Major Service Project I spent the year volunteering once a week at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus. I began volunteering at Riverside in November 2014 as a greeter. For my major service project, I decided to pursue an opportunity in the Emergency Department, working as a Patient Advocate. Every Saturday over the past year I would spend 4-5 hours in the ED doing various tasks and assisting nurses with any miscellaneous duties that needed to be completed. Upon arrival I would stock blanket warmers, the nutrition room, patient rooms, and make sure all the nurses knew I was there. Following this, I would spend the rest of my shift going room-to-room checking on patients. Upon entering a patient’s room I would offer them pillows/blankets/anything to make them more comfortable. If they were alone, I would often stay and talk to them in order to make them feel comfortable because often times being at the ED alone can be a scary situation.

2. Describe what you gained as a result of this experience.

My experience at Riverside has easily been one of the most beneficial experiences for me during my time at Ohio State. I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend at Riverside every week because it gives me a chance to gain exposure to the health care field on a repeated basis. Furthermore, I am able to interact with nurses, physicians, and PSA’s who are able to provide insight into what it actually means to work in health care. Without this direct, hands on experience I would not be as familiar with the medical field. Volunteering at Riverside has helped me to decide on what career path is right for me.

3.Describe positive changes to the community as a result of your service experience.

I believe that the time I spend in the ED at Riverside has a positive benefit on not only myself, but the Columbus community as well. Often times the nurses and other health care staff are overworked so it’s clear that they really appreciate having a volunteer there to help out. Often times patients will express their gratitude toward me for the time I spend talking to them or the assistance I provide. Knowing that the work I am doing is contributing positively to their stay is rewarding for me, even if I only play a small role in their stay at Riverside.

4.Describe a person with whom you interacted that made a strong impression on you, positive or negative.

One man in particular that made an impact on me was a patient who I talked to for over an hour. Upon entering the room, I realized he was there alone so I struck up a conversation with him. Some patients are friendlier than others, but this man was extremely nice and willing to talk. He explained to me that he has been attacked and robbed while trying to cash his paycheck at a convenience store. He went on to explain that he was a veteran, serving our country for over 10 years. He now works extremely hard as a manual laborer, so it really struck me to find out he had been robbed for the money he worked so hard for. Instead of blaming other people, his advice was simply to continue to work hard regardless of the bad things that may happen. It amazed me that this man could be so resilient in the face of such adversity.

5.Complete the following sentence: “Because of this service experience, I am__________”

Because of this service experience, I am more convinced of my role in the health care setting and I understand more clearly what my career aspirations are.



Service Engagement: I have been a volunteer at Riverside Methodist Hospital since November 2014. I spent the first three months as a greeter, assisting people around the hospital. Since then I have served as a patient advocate in the Emergency Department. So far I have contributed close to 300 hours at Riverside.


Leadership Development: For the past two semesters I have served as the fundraising chair of a volunteer organization on campus called A Kid Again. We attempt to put on events for children born with life-limiting illnesses and diseases. My duties include finding and pursing fundraising opportunities in order to finance our yearly Adventureland event, which just took place on 2/13.


Academic Enrichment: As a neuroscience major, my professional interests have become quite apparent. I am fascinated by the brain and nervous system and would like to become a neurologist in the future. My time working in the neuroscience lab has shown me that I don’t want to do research full-time, but rather see patients and do clinical research as well. Because of this interest I have sought out and shadowed a practicing neurologist in order to get an idea what life is like as a neurologist. I also plan on interviewing a medical student at OSU in order to get an idea of what it is like to attend medical school.


Original Inquiry: I have been working in Dr. Benedetta Leuner’s behavioral neuroscience lab since May 2015. I spent the previous summer working everyday on an original research project in conjunction with a graduate student in neuroscience. The research from the project is pending submission for publication.

Year in Review

My past year in HSS has been extremely beneficial and has helped me to gain a great deal of insight into what the right career for me really is. Over the past two years I have attended HSS events, completed an informational interview with a graduate student, and completed a Major Service Project volunteering as a Patient Advocate in the Emergency Department at Riverside Methodist Hospital. All of these experiences have been helpful in their own way. My experience at Riverside has reaffirmed my passion for health care and showed me I am happiest working and interacting with patients and health care staff.  My experience working in a research lab and interviewing a graduate student has showed me that a full-time career in academic research is not the right choice for me. Furthermore, attending HSS events has fostered a sense of community with the HSS cohort and allowed me the opportunity to interact with my peers who have a lot to offer. Overall, I can easily look back and say that I am happy with my experiences in HSS, it has certainly met my initial expectations. I believe that the time I’ve spent with HSS over the past 2 years will continue to benefit me in my career later on.

I have changed a great deal over the past two years. From the start of my freshman year to now I have gained a lot of experience socially and academically. All of my experiences, both academic and extracurricular, have shown me that a career as a physician assistant may be a better choice for me than attending medical school. I welcome the ability to work in health care and provide patient care while working as a PA. I am excited to continue my education and eventually get a job in the health care field where I can make a difference in the lives of people dealing with medical problems. For the rest of my time at OSU I will continue to volunteer, work, and take classes in order to improve my application for PA school.


Global Awareness: Volunteered with OSHA (Ontario Sled Hockey Association) on 1/16 and 2/7. Duties included helping handicapped players in/out of sled. This experience was really eye opening because it made me think about people around the world who may be suffering from similar diseases. As a college student it can be easy to get caught up in being around other college students 24/7 and forget about people of all different ages and cultures that inhabit the earth.