Where Are They Now: Noreen Syed
It doesn’t take long for UCI graduates to succeed and make their impact on the world after commencement, and Noreen Syed is a perfect example of that. Noreen graduated from UCI with her masters in public health in 2019. Her masters project was a geospatial analysis of the effect of maternal residential location on gestational diabetes in Orange County and she now serves as a grant writer for a UCMMA clinic in Los Angeles. Not only was Noreen a phenomenal student at UCI, but she also was an important part of UCI Graduate Division’s office and worked as the department’s social media coordinator during her time as a student.
UCI Graduate Division caught up with Noreen to find out how she used both her academic and professional skills to land a job she’s ecstatic about.
UCI GD: Talk about how you landed your position at UCMMA and what you do there.
Noreen: First of all, I am SO grateful to UCI and working in Graduate Division was one of the best experiences. It actually prepared me for this position. In my final months before graduation was just looking at different opportunities and my advisor actually let me to the UCMMA post. I applied for the job and I got it. I think I almost had the perfect mix of experience on my resume, combining my field of study to the writing experience I received in Graduate Division. I write grants for the UCMMA clinic. I really enjoy it and it’s a rewarding position.
UCI GD: How was your experience at UCI?
Noreen: It was a life-changing experience. Graduate education wasn’t something I was always wanted to do, but one of my undergraduate professors really convinced me to go for it. She stressed the importance of having that advanced degree and I really see it now. UCI was the right decision for me. I made relationships and learned things that will last a lifetime.
UCI GD: If you had to change one thing about your graduate experience, what would you change and why?
Noreen: Oh wow, that’s a good one. There are a few projects that I wish I started on time and didn’t procrastinate with, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t change a whole lot though. I’m not really a person who likes to look back and regret things. I think everything happens for a reason.
UCI GD: What’s one piece of advice you would give to an incoming graduate student.
Noreen: Find a mentor. Connect with someone who has been through this journey before. That can be an older student or a faculty member, but there are so many great tips that I was able to learn from people along the way. I figured out some things on my own as well, but I really tried to listen to the advice others offered.
UCI GD: What’s the greatest piece of advice you received in graduate school?
Noreen: That it’s ok to make mistakes. That actually sounds weird because of how stressful the environment is, but one of my mentors actually told me that. There is still life beyond graduate school and it’s ok if things don’t always go according to plan. Another thing I learned was that self-care is really important. You have to take care of yourself or you’ll burn yourself out.
UCI GD: If you had to do it all over it again, would you still come to UCI?
Noreen: Yes, of course! What kind of a question is that?!
UCI GD: What’s the biggest thing you’re looking forward to doing once the pandemic is over?
Noreen: Can I say everything? Not Seeing my friends and family I think has been the hardest part, so being able to see them on a consistent basis is going to be something I won’t ever take for granted.
For information on the graduate programs UCI has to offer, visit us at www.grad.uci.edu and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.