Passion for science, 10,000 Degrees scholarship fuel freshman's dream

When Lubna Mulla 22’ talks about science, her face just lights up. Science has been her favorite subject since middle school, when a biology class helped ease her transition from India to the United States.

“My parents were not English speakers, so it took me some time to become comfortable with reading and writing in English,” she recalls. “But science was different. It was a language that I could understand right away - it just clicked.”

Lubna excelled at science while attending Mill Valley’s Tamalpais High School, and when it came time to select a college, she looked for two things: a strong science program and the opportunity to work alongside faculty researchers.

Dominican and the School of Health and Natural Sciences checked both boxes.

While Lubna had plenty of college options, including several UC campuses, her mentor from 10,000 Degrees, a nonprofit organization that works directly with local students to support them on their way to college, suggested that Dominican would be the best fit.

“My mentor felt that Dominican would be a great place for me because it had a good science program, it was close to home – I wanted to stay close to my family – and I would get a lot of attention and support from professors,” Lubna says.

Dominican also felt the fit was right, awarding Lubna the coveted 10,000 Degrees full-tuition scholarship. Each year Dominican offers scholarships – including one full-tuition scholarship – to outstanding 10,000 Degrees students.

Midway through her first semester, Lubna is certain she made the right decision, especially when she talks with her sister who attends college at UC Berkeley.

“I am so glad that I chose to come to Dominican instead of a huge UC,” Lubna says, “At Dominican you get do research as an undergraduate. At a larger school there’s a lot of competition among the undergraduate students to do research, and not everyone gets the chance to work in a lab.”

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At Dominican, undergraduate research is woven into the science curriculum. All science students gain hands-on experience in the lab and the opportunity to use scientific literature while working alongside faculty mentors. The Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics also provides internships in career related areas and the year-long Kaiser Pre-Med Mentor Program, which allows students to learn from and shadow physicians.

Lubna currently is enrolled in both biology and chemistry courses, as well as Dominican’s Mastering College course, which connects first-year students with a network of resources, mentors, and academic support.

Soon Lubna will start rotating through Dominican’s science labs as part of the Research Methodology course sequence. The research based laboratory course introduces methods for researching literature and writing a research proposal in a wide range of scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, environmental chemistry, molecular cell physiology, biotechnology, or environmental sciences.

“I love research and I am really excited about working in a lab,” Lubna says. “There are so many good options at Dominican and I’m exciting about meeting more of the professors to hear about their research.”

Lubna’s long-term goal is to enter pharmacy school, following the footsteps of recent alumni, including Mindy Chen ’15, Brandi Tacdol ’15, Scott Grigsby ’14, and Dr. Natalie Aquino ’12.

“One reason I love science is that with science you can help so many people – that is something I really want to do.”