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Major Moment: Biology with Una Yamamoto Barkardottir '24

Hometown: Reykjavík, Iceland
"College is a time to find your footing, so make use of this privilege and enjoy your time doing so."

"College is a time to find your footing, so make use of this privilege and enjoy your time doing so."

Aside from her work as a Tour Guide, Una Yamamoto Barkardottir ‘24 is also the Special Events and Continuing Education Intern for the Admissions Office, where she manages the tour guide team and hosts meetings with different campus departments and resources. Here, she tells us about her journey to declaring a Biology major and Philosophy minor.  

Did you enter college knowing what you wanted to major in? How have the classes you’ve taken at BMC either confirmed your interest in the major or surprised you with a new interest? 

I have always been passionate about natural sciences and found myself most excited in my Biology classes in my earlier years at Bryn Mawr. I knew I wanted to do something in science, and I originally declared a Biochemistry & Molecular Biology major. After spending some time with those classes, I realized that I wanted to balance out the “microworld” with the “macroworld” a little more, and becoming a Biology major would give me a more diverse range of topics to explore to help me narrow my focus and interests.  

Favorite class you’ve taken for your majors? Favorite memory? 

The best Bio class I took was Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The syllabus covers such current material and I felt super fortunate to be able to learn about these topics sort of as everyone else in the world is right now, especially being taught by an expert! My favorite memories might have to be from my Ecology lab, going onto Lake Vickers behind Rhoads on a little boat or wearing waders and going into a nearby creek to collect samples with friends. 

What experiential learning opportunities have you had connected to your academic interests? 

I was able to work a few research jobs, both back home in Iceland and here at Penn. I applied the liberal arts approach to my off-campus learning experiences by not limiting myself to one subject within Bio too quickly. I tried out basic wet lab benchwork, bioinformatics, and research coordination. I now feel very excited about gathering all the experiences I’ve had in all these corners of biology and moving forward in cancer research after graduation! 

What advice would you give to a student on the process of declaring a major? 

Major in something that feels fun, personal, and interesting. Never make these choices because they look good on a degree or on your resume! College is a time to find your footing, so make use of this privilege and enjoy your time doing so :-) 


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