BioCore encourages community

Lu Aleman

College is a struggle for every first-year, a turmoil of emotions and thoughts running through their minds.

What will my life look like in these two, three, four years? Who will my friends be? Will my classes be hard? What do I want to do with my life? These and a number of other questions take minds captive.

For a biology student, this can be even more intense. With hours of homework, labs and math, it is easy to feel alone.

At Seattle Pacific University, the BioCore program is presented to biology students for assistance. Leslie Rodriguez-Salas has been in the program for the last three years, and she describes the “lifelong friends” she has been able to make through the program along with “connections with professors and … amazing opportunities that have helped [her] grow as a student and a mentor.”

Many students can fall back on their parents who attended college, but being a first-generation student means learning everything yourself. BioCore provides students the support they may lack.

A current BioCore student, Beth Gebre, stated that, “It has been a blessing to have a group of students that understands the challenges that comes with being first generation student and just dealing with classes in general.”

A strong community of close-knit students looking to help each other is what defines BioCore.

Rodriguez-Salas spoke of the difficulty that nearly every student faces, saying, “I had a difficult time finding the support group that I needed to help me carry out my career here at SPU.”

Through BioCore, study groups are organized for all students. They buckle down and get through tests together. They talk about biology courses, discuss concepts and even give each other the opportunity to ask questions and help each other. In the program, students have the opportunity to struggle and learn with others.

At least once per month they meet with a peer mentor and talk about life.

Peer mentors are not only there to help with the academic part of a student’s life, but also the personal part of their life.

Menna Hailemariam and Ngan Dang, two juniors in the program, describe how they met in the program nearly three years ago and the impact the program had on their college experience, “we are very privileged to be in the program … our view of [SPU] … and the biology major is framed from BioCore and it’s a big part of our college life and career.”

BioCore provides a massive support network for its students so no one feels alone or left out as they start their journey and progress along it.

The program also allows students to partake in different events opening many doors for their future. Biology and chemistry students have the opportunity to take part in a week-long research project. They learn and troubleshoot experimental techniques and collect data, allowing them to better tackle their courses or internships throughout college.

BioCore is now accepting applications and the requirements are simple, according to Dr. Elena Brezynski, founder of the program. “I am looking for people who are keen and want to work in a collaborative environment. … There are certain parts of the program that they are required to attend, … they have a weekly meeting. They have to sign up to the whole process of helping each other, we are looking for people who really want to participate.”

This program is here to help students find who they are within their biology major, it gives students an opportunity to be a part of a community that is ready to help them thrive and offer resources for success.

For questions, or to access applications, go to or contact Dr. Elena Brezynski at [email protected]