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Meet Victory Circle Scholar: Salwan Alhani



1. Can you tell us a little about who you are and where you’re from?

My name is Salwan Alhani, I am 19 years old and I’m from Los Angeles California. I grew up in Culver City and recently completed high school last year at Culver City High School. Currently, I enjoy going to school and working in Los Angeles because of the great diversity of people and perspectives around the city. From the time I was in High school, I had a strong interest in science but I wasn’t sure what discipline I wanted to study, but that changed when I took a few college classes. Today I’m studying at West Los Angeles College and majoring in Biochemistry.

2. What Base 11 program did you participate in?

I participated in the Base 11 Aerospace Summer Internship at Caltech this past summer. There were many great aspects of being an intern at Caltech.

3. What were some specific highlights of the program that stood out for you?

Being able to live on campus and work at Graduate Aeronautics Laboratory (GALCIT) was amazing, there were many opportunities to network and connect with graduate students and researchers at the forefront of their fields. In addition there were extensive tours of the laboratories and facilities at GALCIT. As interns we were given a brief but through introduction to fluid mechanics principles and applications. When we weren’t doing research work, there were many great seminars and workshops with very useful information. I also had the opportunity to sit in at two thesis defense presentations by graduate students. Overall the wealth of resources, research and learning opportunities open to us at Caltech was incredible.

4. How has your life changed since starting the Base 11 program?

I can say that I have definitely come out much more knowledgeable about fluid mechanics and research than when I came in. Doing a research project in a laboratory independently for the first time as an undergraduate seemed like a challenge but my mentor taught me how to setup and manage my project well. What I took away that I think was amazing was that from all of the graduate student researchers I met there was a striking amount of dedication and passion for the work they were doing. Even if they weren’t able to produce a satisfactory result, they kept experimenting and never wavered in their efforts at their project. That is a life skill that I will definitely remember as I enter my research interest.

5. What are your plans for the future?

Currently, I’m completing my lower division science courses in anticipation of transfer next fall. I have my sights set on UCLA because they are one of the best research universities in California. I know that I will definitely be pursuing research work when after I transfer and even after I earn my degree. After completing undergraduate studies, I will apply for medical school.

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