Sophia Kerns

Sarah Kerns with Tronfeld West & Durrett Attorneys

Name: Sophia Kerns

Currently Enrolled (2018): Veritas School

About Winning: 

“I am very honored and humbled that Tronfeld, West & Durrett would offer me this scholarship. To me, it is an encouragement to pursue my goals and dreams to the fullest especially in my upcoming years as an undergraduate student. In the future, I am interested in pursuing a career within the field of biomedical engineering. As of now, I am interested in participating in research and potentially becoming a research doctor.”


I have been told several times that people should pursue a career which is the intersection between their passions, skills, and the world’s needs. In thinking about a major, I have spent lots of time considering the career field which would complement my skills and excite my passions as well as contribute to the world at large. In the end, I decided to study biomedical engineering.

My journey discovering my own interests began when I was a little girl looking at pictures in an anatomy book. I found the human body fascinating and loved to read about how it worked. As I grew, I found that, although I enjoyed school in general, I was especially fascinated by the sciences. I pursued this interest in high school through programs such as the Virginia Space Coast Scholars and Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars, two NASA programs studying NASA history and mission design. I also took a genetics class at the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School and participated in a chemistry structure elucidation workshop at the University of Richmond. Although these programs cover a wide variation of topics, they helped me to discover that my passions lie mostly in biology, chemistry, and medicine.

Beyond lying within the realm of my skills and passions, the world will always need more biomedical advances. Once, a person described the difference between science and engineering as observing the world versus applying that knowledge to the world. The application of science excites me most. I find biomedical advances and the applications of biology and chemistry to medicine fascinating, and the problem-solving mindset of engineering will always be useful and important in life.

After deciding to pursue biomedical engineering, I chose to attend the University of Virginia in this field. I found the program attractive because it is involved with the medical school and because may students participate in research at the University. This program will give me the opportunity to pursue my goal of becoming a research doctor.

As a person, I aspire to be always growing and learning. In the past, I have grown by discovering my passions, skills, and the world’s needs. In the future, I want to grow in these things more and more. In the next five years, I want to have graduated from college and possibly attending medical school so that I can become a research doctor. However, to get to this point, there are going to be many challenges in college. Although college academics are sure to be a challenge, I am excited for the future and to learn and grow through this. I am hoping to grow not only in knowledge but also in my time-management abilities and in my abilities to be a good friend despite being busy. I am also interested in joining the running club at school in order to push myself mentally and physically and to continue a sport which I love.
An example of one class which will be a challenge at college is a class known as the Integrative Design and Experimental Analysis (IDEAS) laboratory. Taken in the junior year at UVA in biomedical engineering, this class serves as a place to learn the skills of biomedical research as well as to integrate the knowledge learned in previous classes into real life. This lab is known jokingly to students as the “I don’t eat and sleep” lab because of the extensive homework required for the class. I am ready to take on this challenge knowing that, although it will be difficult, I can accomplish the task ahead by working hard.

Beyond college, I would love to be involved in biomedical research. To get to this point, I am interested in going to medical school in order to be able to serve as a researcher as well as possible. Part of my inspiration to become a researcher has been hearing stories of people who need research to continue I order to survive. In second grade, my teacher gave birth to a little girl named Lucy. As she grew, Lucy was constantly sick and was often in the hospital due to Job’s Syndrome, a rare disorder which mainly impacts the immune system as well as other systems of the body. Because of her disease’s attack on her immune system, Lucy often gets infections and even pneumonia. One procedure which Lucy must undergo somewhat frequently is a bronchoscopy. Although this is necessary for her health, Lucy dislikes bronchoscopies especially. As she undergoes this procedure, Lucy must deal with a sore throat, coughing, and other side effects. Modified bronchoscopy equipment would greatly improve Lucy’s life and make her more comfortable as she battles Job’s syndrome. As a researcher, I could have the potential to help people like Lucy by making her life more comfortable or even by pursuing a cure for the disease through genetic cures. In the future, I would love to work at the National Institutes of Health in order to help people by pursuing research. One of my wildest dreams is to win a Nobel Prize in a medical field.

The first step to the future is college. As I take this first step, I am trying to make sure that college is financed well. This scholarship could help me work towards my future as any money which I can save now can be used to finance my other goals such as owning a home. I am very thankful for any help which I can receive to finance my college education so that I can better meet my goals in the future.