Name: Michelle Dion ‘13
Sport: Field Hockey
Major: Course 10B (Chemical-Biological Engineering)
Current Place of Employment: Genentech
Why did you choose to attend MIT?
I chose MIT for multiple reasons. Being located in Boston, one of the hubs of medical research and biotechnology and a great college city, and being a renowned university with an abundance of research opportunities were some of the big reasons I chose MIT as I knew I wanted to do engineering research related to medicine and biology. Additionally, I liked the fact that MIT also places an emphasis on rigor in the humanities- I really enjoyed being able to continue to explore my interests in literature during my time at MIT. I also chose MIT because of its culture- I think the casual intensity of the students- the ability to study hard but not take oneself too seriously, the collaborative, innovative nature of campus, and the sheer diversity of experiences at MIT- where anyone can find their niche and home-away-from-home, was truly attractive to me and remains one of my favorite things about MIT. Finally, it was a huge bonus that I could continue to play field hockey and that my family was nearby- I’m from MA and my twin sister, Nicole, played field hockey at Bentley.
What is your current job title and what does this position entail?
I'm currently an engineer in Drug Delivery after completing the Process Development Rotational Program (PDRP), a two-year program consisting of four six-month rotations in different areas of U.S. Biologics Technical Development where I gained a broad perspective of how manufacturing processes, analytical methods, and technologies are developed and adopted in biotechnology. In Drug Delivery, I design, develop and assess long acting drug delivery technologies for small and large molecule therapeutics. My work puts me at the intersection of research and technical development allowing me to work on many cross-functional teams and to help create and develop many new technologies that I will get to see directly impact patients.
How did your time at MIT prepare you for your work as an engineer in Drug Delivery?
In all honesty, I can say that my time on the playing field at MIT helped me develop the characteristics I need to succeed professionally. Being an MIT athlete prepared me to be able to work well in teams, multi-task, manage my time efficiently and effectively, think critically in any situation and, as President Reif said at my graduation, “hack the world” by bringing more of MIT- the passion, ambition, rigor, kindness and innovativeness- to my work by tackling challenges head on. It taught me to be tenacious, assertive and confident in pursuit of my goals. All of these things are important in being able to deliver on Roche’s mission statement ‘Doing now what patients need next’. My time at MIT has enabled me to live out my dream of bringing innovative solutions directly to the patients that need them most.
What piece of advice would you have for current MIT Student-Athletes?
Enjoy and take advantage of the abundance of opportunities you have at your fingertips and make the best of these moments in both the difficult times and the good times.
How did your athletic involvement aid in the path that you chose following graduation?
My love of sports is one of the main things that lead me to be an engineer. When I was 12, I injured my elbow while training competitively for figure skating and couldn’t play any sports for several months. Being sidelined was incredibly frustrating (especially since Harry Potter’s arm was fixed in one night) and I couldn’t imagine being unable to participate in my favorite activities because of a medical issue. As a result, I wanted to pursue a career that would enable me to help others pursue their passions regardless of physical or mental limitations. Working in biotech research and development allows me to achieve this dream on a daily basis. Additionally, sports have always been a huge part of my life, helping me to develop and understand the importance of leadership, time management and teamwork skills- all of which are necessary to be a successful scientist (and adult). Participating in athletics has taught me the importance of mentorship, which plays a huge part of my career development and my daily life as I am on the advisory board for Gene Academy, Genentech’s elementary school mentoring program, and I am going on my 4th year of mentoring young women in STEM through GetMAGIC. More specifically to MIT athletics, my involvement has given me a huge network of alumni and current student-athletes who are always more than willing to share advice and their experiences and many lasting friendships.
What is your most fond memory of MIT athletics?
I don’t think I can possibly choose one…synchronized swimming competitions during pre-season; adventures in “Maine”; winning “all the marbles” during NEWMAC playoffs; family tailgates after games- even at away games…there are so many incredible memories. I’d have to say my fondest, if I had to choose, would be our 2012 NCAA trip to William Smith. Going on road trips anywhere with the team was always a great time, but being able to enjoy one last NCAA field hockey road trip with the team, especially some of my best friends, making the most memorable pump-up videos, competing in NCAAs, the final tailgate with our families and fans and the last bus ride home with the team, is a memory I will always cherish. While it didn’t end the way we wanted, it was an incredible way to end a career of many, many athletic tournament road trips.
What would you say is your greatest athletic & academic accomplishments during your time at MIT?
Athletically, I couldn’t be more proud than to be part of the 2013 MIT Field Hockey class and the part we had in helping the program grow and improve. My class had so many accomplishments both individually and as a team- we won the NEWMAC championship three out of our four years, won the first NCAA game in program history, advanced to the Elite 8 in 2011 and the Sweet 16 in 2009 and 2012- but I’d have to say my greatest athletic accomplishment was captaining the 2012 team with my fellow seniors, Kim and Molly, to the 2012 NEWMAC championship, a NCAA first round bye and having our team have the highest GPA in D3 field hockey. Having the privilege of leading a team that epitomized the MIT student-athlete by accomplishing so much on and off the field was truly rewarding.
Academically, I’d have to say my greatest academic accomplishment was being recognized for my all-around academic achievements in chemical engineering (2012 MIT Genentech Outstanding Junior Award), research (I was part of the 2011 MIT iGEM team that finished in fourth place at the iGEM World Championships and won the health and medicine track), and literature (2013 Kelly Essay Prize winner for Excellence in Humanistic Scholarship).
What was your favorite non-athletics activity here at MIT?
I didn’t really have a favorite- I enjoyed researching biomedical technologies through UROPs, exploring Boston and Cambridge neighborhoods and restaurants, meeting people from other universities, participating in Greek life, running bridge loops for fun, and cheering on other MIT teams at their matches.