Zahra sits for this brief interview in her penultimate evening at EXPLO. She discusses the tight bond she's developed with her Surgical Interventions Concentration, the project they've come together to create, and her excitement for returning to school once the summer ends.

Why don’t we begin with your name and Concentration — and if you could have one wish, what would it be?

Okay. My name is Zahra, and I'm in Surgical Interventions and Biomedical Engineering. And if I could have one wish it would probably be to see my brother again. I really miss him at the moment.

Would you tell me a little bit about what brought you to Surgical Interventions at EXPLO?

Originally, I was actually going to do Medical Rotations. This was two years ago, pre-pandemic. But I had the opportunity to switch programs this year. Basically, I saw that they had Biomedical Engineering as an option. And honestly, I’m really interested in that area of study, but there's not a lot of opportunities for kids my age. So when I saw it I thought, "Oh my god, I have to go into this." My mom said I could switch over, so I did, and I'm really glad I did, because I ended up making really good friends in the program.

The topics have all been interesting and hands-on and inclusive. And I've learned so much from the speakers, from Richard, our instructor, and the teaching fellows. They've all brought something to the table that has been really helpful and amazing, and I know I definitely want to go into this when I'm older.

Tell me a little bit about your friends in your Concentration and any of your shared interests.

We actually don't have many shared interests, which is why I think we’re good friends here. Honestly, I'm pretty sure we're all friends because we all bond over academic stress and how much we love medicine in general. We bond over shared stress and shared interest in how amazing it is to learn something new each and every day. 

When we were assigned our presentation, it seemed like a big project. We didn't think we could do it, but the group that I’m with for the project consists of my closest friends here. We were struggling the first week, but over the weekend we were able to get together and completely turn everything around. We were able to develop an idea for a new biomaterial for heart valves, and it would have to go through a lot of testing, but it could definitely be a viable option for the future. And hopefully, in a few years, we can meet again, because we all live across the United States. Half of us live on the West Coast and half of us live on the East Coast. 

What do you want to accomplish in your final 24 hours here?

Well, first off, to accomplish the presentation. It's gonna be interesting. I'm excited about it. I’m also a bit scared because I have to get up and talk, but we've been presenting all week, so I'm very confident that we can present our material and that we’ll do okay. That’s definitely the biggest thing on my mind until it’s over.

After that, I'm probably just going to pack and get ready for the dance. After we leave the dance, we'll probably hang out in my friend's room because she had she has a suite that has a little couch area, so we’ll probably sit there and talk. 

What’s after EXPLO for you?

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing people who I haven't seen since the pandemic started. I missed them. I'm really looking forward to I'm also looking forward to going back to school. I'm excited to see my teachers. I have all new teachers this year because I go to a small school. The high school is still growing. This coming year is the first year we're gonna have 12th graders at my school. So, technically there are all new teachers, and the only teacher that will repeat is my English teacher I had this year. I’ll finally be able to see him in person. I have seen him once, I guess, and I really thought he was taller, but he's not. It threw me off he wasn't much taller than me, but seemed that way in the video chat.