College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Peer Advisor Profiles

Name: Ruixuan (Jenny) Zhang
Year: Fourth Year/Senior
Major: Genetics and Plant Biology
Favorite Classes: Chemistry 3, Biology 1B/AL, Dutch 39A, Japanese 1A, Anthropology 115 (Medical Anthropology), MCB 102, PMB 135 Activities: Taking pictures of food, gardening, cooking, Lemaux and Buchanan Lab, Alta Bates Hospital, Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals (CCMP), Gospel Chorus, PMHS, AAA

Before choosing to come to UC Berkeley for my undergraduate studies, I had a complete nervous breakdown because I was unsure if I would be ready for its fast pace and competitive environment. Even when I finally submitted my SIR to Cal, at the urging of my parents, I was still unsure of my decision. Truth be told, the main reason behind my choice was to attend a college close to home. Pretty strange for a teenager at the time since most of my friends wanted to get as far away from theirs as possible. However, my first visit to the campus changed my mind almost completely. There is something about stepping onto the urban streets of Telegraph and Bancroft that caused college students, like myself, to leave their closed-minded thoughts and simply mature.

After completing my first semester at Cal, I had learned so much about how to become an independent person and felt a need, instilled my professors, to create change or take responsibility of my future. However, at that point I was faced with the difficulty of finding a fit in deciding what to do with my life. I was lucky enough to have accidentally attended a College of Natural Resources orientation that was held on Fall 2007's Welcome Week and through that experience I discovered the wonders of the being a CNR student. For instance: a program called SPUR that helps CNR undergraduates get in contact with professors to help with their researches, having major advisors who care a lot about their students, the personable upper-division classes. After asking several Cal alumni over Yahoo! Answers about various science majors offered at Berkeley and talking to my current major advisor in CNR, I made my decision to transfer to CNR and major in Genetics and Plant Biology. This decision was very important because it helped me to realize my goal to do research in medical ethnobotany in the future, in particular Chinese herbal medicine.

Growing up with and treated by parents trained in traditional Chinese medicine, I have learned to appreciate the use of natural plants for treating all kinds of sicknesses. I have realized that in our modern society, so many people are relying on artificial drugs to suppress symptoms of their health problems and very few times are the sources of these problems treated. Chinese traditional medicine uses herbs, pressure points, the body's natural healing ability and etc. to treat the sources of patients' health problems, while decreasing the symptoms. However, a large majority of our population believe that Chinese and other cultures' traditional medicine are a hoax because it is difficult to imagine that natural products are the solutions to our health problems.

By majoring in Genetics and Plant Biology, I want to study the biochemistry of plants used in traditional medicinal practices-i.e. proteins and other biomolecules that are responsible for the healing abilities of herbal plants; so that I can prove to my peers that traditional medicine is real and applicable. Henceforth, my choice in my major is both due to my ardent obsession with plants and its correlation to my desired future profession. I hope that everyone too will find a major in CNR that they love and enjoy!

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