• Daniyal Aikal
  • Class of: 2017

daniyalMajor: Honors Cell Biology & Neuroscience

Why did you choose CBN as your major?

I am so incredibly passionate about developmental biology. The cellular processes that occur upon the unison of a single microscopic sperm and egg, which eventually give rise to a giant macroscopic living, breathing, moving entity, is absolutely riveting. The human body is a beautiful mechanism in motion; I knew that the best way to learn and understand it was to study CBN.

What did you like most about it?

Though science has come such a long way in a very short amount of time, there is still so much out there that we simply have yet to discover. Every day, we learn something new. The knowledge we uncover through our work are the little steps towards the next greatest breakthrough in science and medicine.

What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?

I am currently training to become a Neurophysiologist. I will be working in an operating room alongside with doctors to monitor patients’ central nervous system to ensure that they do not suffer any debilitating injuries, therefore preventing paralysis. I enjoy it because while many of my friends complain that most of what they learned in college is not utilized at their current jobs, I am fortunate to be in a situation where everything I learned in college actually came together to help me succeed in what I do.

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

My first job after Rutgers was doing Research & Development for a Fortune 500 company. During my undergraduate years, my mentors pushed me to gain the research skills necessary to make me a competitive applicant. I received the strong instruction, advice, and feedback to point me in the proper direction. Most importantly, I was persistent and I showed great interest in the position, while showing that my skills and degree rendered me as the most suitable applicant for the position.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

I loved the research I was doing, but I really wanted to transition to a clinical setting, where I could work one-on-one with patients. Instead of doing Research & Development to improve the quality of life of consumers, I was able to move to a clinical setting where I knew my work could impact the lives of patients more directly. Through the amazing network at Rutgers University, I was able to navigate the job market efficiently.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

The greatest classes were the ones that challenged me to think and learn in new ways, rather than simply memorizing and regurgitating facts all day. To actually apply what I learned, to solve problems and find new solutions. CBN courses did a phenomenal job at helping me unlock this next level of thinking, because that forced me out of my comfort zone; that was where I learned and grew the most. Courses such as Advanced Neurobiology 1, Advanced Developmental Biology, and Systems Physiology were very challenging, but by far my favorite courses at Rutgers University.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

Discover your passion. Find something that makes you excited to get out of bed every single day; because when you love what you do, it is as though you get paid for doing your hobby. When you are passionate about what you do, that is how you bring change to the world. Absolutely refuse to settle for anything less than what you deserve. Work hard, and don’t be discouraged when things don’t turn out as anticipated; the unexpected turns are usually the best ones. Undergraduate years are a rollercoaster ride; tag along for the ride, and have fun along the way. Leave no stone unturned, because we as individuals do not regret the things we did; rather, we regret the things that we did not do.

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