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Blair

Blair Blanchette

Year: 2014
Hometown: Lynchburg, VA
Major: Biochemistry

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found at U.Va.?

The most surprising thing I have seen is how fit everyone is! The first day of spring means every weekend has a philanthropic 5K, and everyone is out preparing to win!


If you were stranded on a deserted island, which book would you want to have with you?

It would be a toss up between the first Harry Potter and Stephen King’s The Stand.


How do you spend your spring breaks?

I spent my first college spring break touring the east coast with two of my new college friends. I had never been to the historical sections of DC or NYC, so I got to see those for the first time! I spent my last spring break at home with my family, which was fantastic of course, as my sister is going off to school this year as well. Next spring break, I hope to join the ASB trip that goes to the Grand Canyon and helps park rangers!


Did you visit U.Va. before deciding to attend?

Yes, twice in fact!


Why U.Va.?

My family moved to Virginia when I was very small for the purpose of using the excellent state schools it has to offer. As a research university, I knew UVA had what I needed to succeed as a biochemistry major. This university offered what I needed. The reason I stay here is because of the wonderful professors and students that I have met. Had I not attended UVA, I wouldn’t have met my newest best friends and I might not have fallen into my new love, astronomy.


Describe your favorite professor.

My favorite professor is Professor Chruma of the Chemistry Department. Professor Chruma gave many medical and research applications to his Organic Chemistry class, which made it engaging for every student. Above that, his personal experience with materials we discussed lent an added dimension to the class. Aside from his discussions about his own research and lab experiences, he briefly talked about his fun experiments when he was in high school and that he now shares with his children. For example, he discussed his experiences with making soap in high school, which is made from base and fats. This led us all to ask if it was possible to make soap from bacon grease. At the end of the semester, I was in possession of a pink bar of bacon soap, which he created to illustrate that soap can, in fact, be made from bacon.
 


What was your favorite class?

My favorite classes at UVA were my Introduction to Sky and Solar System and Mysteries of the Universe courses taught by Professor Murphy. I loved this classes because Professor Murphy made astronomy accessible to all of the students, which isn’t easy since most students get very little discussion about astronomy in high school. We addressed common misconceptions about our solar system and the way it operates, from why the seasons occur to new and highly successful planet-finding methods. In addition, Professor Murphy took the time to discuss the origins of constellations and the importance of maintaining stories behind the constellations as much as the physical properties of each collection of stars. These fun stories are just as important as the new developments in the field because they are the origin of the science of astronomy!
 


What activities are you involved in?

I'm involved in the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Med Society, and Women in Medicine Initiatives (WIMI).  I'm also an SPCA volunteer for Madison House and am newly accepted into the Peer Health Educator program!


What is your favorite extracurricular and why?

Madison House volunteering at the SPCA is by far my favorite because it offers a chance for me to take a break from my studies, and I get to spend my afternoons walking dogs and playing with cats so that they can be adopted by loving families! I have developed a very strong relationship with some of the animals there, and even though it is sad when I have to let go of one of the animals I have seen for so long, it’s wonderful to know that they are going to a loving home.
 


Have you taken the opportunity to get career advice while a student?

AED (Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Med Society) does such a wonderful job with resume and application advice, I haven’t had need to go to UCS quite yet. Soon, though, I know I will have need!


What are the arts like at U.Va.?

The arts at UVA are as diverse as the students that attend this university. The plays and music performances I have been modern, classical, lighthearted and serious. The play “Dark Play: Stories for Boys” was one of my first experiences with UVA arts. This play was educational, modern, and very controversial; in fact, iit was followed by a discussion with the directors about the heavy content of the play. Unlike any play that I had ever seen, I was drawn to see several more shows that year, including, “By the Bog of Cats,” which stands out in my mind again for its striking content and unusual conclusion. Also, on my weekend at UVA, my resident advisor took my hall to see the Fine Arts Museum, which had a wide variety of art to enjoy. It was a particularly enjoyable experience because I had just finished my high school ARt History course and was taking another that semester. It was a good refresher, and was a beautiful place to bond with my new hall.


How would you describe the students who attend U.Va.?

UVA students are extremely driven students, wanting to excel at whatever tasks they have before them. Above all else, they have passion for their goals and seek them with their whole hearts, whether it be in the classroom, in the community, or with their future careers and research.


What is your favorite memory from your time at Virginia?

Although I have many memories that I’m sure many students share with me (my first football game being one of them), my first play was an experience to remember! I previously hadn’t been aware of the strength of the members of our drama program, and I was blown away by By the Bog of Cats. And since the plays are free to students, I have been back to see many more plays, all of which have been equally as well-performed and enthralling!


What is your favorite thing to do in Charlottesville?

Enjoy the music scene! Big names and small come to Charlottesville, from Lady Gaga and Dave Matthews to my favorites like Josh Ritter!


What’s your favorite restaurant in Charlottesville?

Bodo's Bagels for breakfast and Lemongrass (Thai) for dinner.


What is the competition in your classes like?

UVA is an academically rigorous university, and UVA’s atmosphere is one of fostering educational growth among the students. There is a lot of competition, but mostly from students pushing themselves to do better, not between students. My experiences in Organic Chemistry lab have expressly shown this to me. As a class, we devised a study guide for the semester that we all contributed to and studied with for our final exams. We collaborated so we could all meet our individual academic goals.
 


How can a student stay active? What sports are popular?

UVA is an exceptionally physically active campus; if there is a sport, UVA students do it, and they do it well. With three gyms, fitness classes like yoga, and a plethora of intramural and club teams, every student can find their personal way for staying active.