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Kirill Bersuker '04

Kirill, a post-doctoral scholar at UC-Berkeley, took some time to reflect on his St. Andrew's education and offer some advice for seniors as they prepare to graduate this spring.
Where did life lead you after graduating St. Andrew's?
 
I went to UT Austin where I majored in molecular and cell biology within the Dean’s Scholars Program. I then went to graduate school at Stanford where I did a PhD studying the molecular mechanisms behind neurodegenerative disease in the department of biology. I concurrently did a masters in medicine by taking medical school courses with the med students at Stanford medical school. Currently, I am a post-doctoral scholar at UC Berkeley studying the mechanisms of fat storage in cells.
 
Can you identify some skills you learned at St. Andrew's that are helping you in your life?
 
I remember St. Andrew’s most for its great teachers, some of whom don’t teach there anymore. English courses with Kimberley Horne and John Works taught me how to write and think deeply about what I read. Teachers including Marsha Russell in art history and Jennie Luongo in Latin led me to appreciate interesting topics beyond science. Physics teacher Doug Wick, who led the science club, encouraged us to explore scientific topics beyond what we learned in class. Last but not least, my freshman year biology teacher Vince Totero inspired my original interests in biology.
 
Can you name a teacher or class you took that had a lasting impact on you?
 
My freshman year biology teacher Vince Totero inspired my early interest in biology. His class was difficult but I found the details fascinating. I remember talking to Vince at a pep rally and telling him my goal was to study biology in college and grad school.
 
Do you have a favorite St. Andrew's tradition?
 
Sometimes invited people or faculty would give a lecture or performance during chapel. It was great to hear about the experiences of others and learn more about the faculty than we would normally learn just by going to classes.
 
What advice would you give a St. Andrew's senior as they prepare to graduate?
 
This advice may seem contrary to my decision to pursue biology early in high school, but I would say, don't try to over plan your life, but instead be open to seize on unexpected opportunities.


Thank you Kirill for sharing your thoughts with us!

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Located in Austin, Texas, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private co-ed elementary, middle and high school for grades K-12. Students benefit from dedicated faculty, a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.