BioSci Alumnus Spotlight: Roderick Seamster, MD, MPH, ‘82
BioSci Alumnus, Roderick Seamster, MD, MPH, ‘82 walking down to the graduation stage as the 2019 BioSci Mace Marshal.
1) Can you share a memorable experience from your time as an undergraduate at UCI?
There were many memorable and rewarding experiences as an undergraduate at UCI. One includes my exposure to the Black Students in Science Organization (BSSO) and BioSci Peer Academic Advisors. Being a member in BSSO and frequent utilizer of BioSci Peer Advisors, it was the standard to receive early guidance toward navigating course selections, receiving best materials to support studying, reviewing available research/clinical service jobs or volunteer opportunities, and providing exposure to health care professionals. A natural progression of my participation in both of these strong campus community resources led me to take on leadership roles in each and give back in kind. The most memorable aspects of participation would arise while collaborating with fellow UCI students and helping with allaying fears that arise with the pursuit of healthcare careers. Other memorable experiences include meeting Alex Haley in the UCI cross cultural center during his visit in 1981 and receiving a 1982 academic award from UCI founding Chancellor Daniel Aldrich and Vice Chancellor-Student Affairs Horace Mitchell (Associate Dean for Student and Curricular Affairs in the UCI College of Medicine at that time). As an alumnus, serving as the 2019 UCI BioSci Mace Marshal during the commencement ceremony, June 16, 2019, was a more recent memorable experience and a most gracious honor I received with the utmost humility.
2) What do you believe sets UCI apart from other universities and why is it special to you?
UCI promotes community, collaboration, diversity, research and leadership among its expansive and relevant degree programs and affiliations. In addition to maintaining leading programs and faculty, UCI recognizes that it is equally important to provide students with access to faculty and other resources to support proper nurturing and growth to succeed while on campus and future career endeavors. UCI provided me an educational environment promoting interactive and sustained growth. My student days at UCI are directly responsible for my strength and ultimate reach within my health care career pursuits.
3) How has your education from BioSci impacted your career and personal life?
The BioSci major was a challenging, interesting, strong, foundational and powerful educational program. It became acutely apparent to me that UCI prepared me to succeed in my postgraduate programs at Harvard medical school and public health school. I recall while in medical school, taking Biochemistry and “licking my lips with joy each day” because BioSci had thoroughly prepared me for this course, and with eagerness, I attentively excelled through the course learning additional clinical applications. Another medical school experience arose during a Physiology exam. It was a standard med school physiology exam except all the questions had to be answered as if the query occurred on the moon or no gravity situation. Before completely panicking, I initially reflected back to UCI Professor Joe White’s Psychology course, in any anxiety rendering situation, he always said, “Don’t let them see you sweat and act accordingly.” Thus, in that exam, I calmed down, then recalled my yearlong learning in UCI Physics, and ultimately made it through with flying colors. Thanks to the BioSci curriculum and undergraduate community, I continued to excel and achieve my career goals in Primary Care and Public Health, serving underserved communities.
4) What advice would you give to current students or recent graduates to ensure they have a successful and fulfilling future?
BioSci maintains strong degree programs preparing students to be impressive candidates in all fields of future career endeavors. The school has a wide array of resources supporting individual growth specific to the needs of each student. It is extremely helpful to collaborate with upper classmates and alumni to design a plan “today” to navigate through the student days and prepare for a strong career trajectory “tomorrow.”
5) What compelled you to become an active alumni and donor?
UCI BioSci was pivotal to strengthening me in scholarship, leadership and community service pursuits. It is my duty to give back in ways that I am able, including time, talent and treasure. The UCI Alumni Association is very active and responsive to the needs of the students, school and community. I have participated in various activities, engaged in a number of initiatives and served on various reunion committees over the years. I am currently participating on the 2023 UCI Black Alumni Chapter Reunion Committee, this event is scheduled for September 23, 2023. Through serving on committees and attending Alumni activities, I have opportunities to reconnect with classmates, meet students, faculty and alumni, and receive firsthand updates and learn how I can be more supportive to the school.
6) Can you talk about any initiatives or programs at BioSci that you are particularly excited about and why?
The BioSci Mentor Program is an excellent model program that provides real-time collaboration opportunities for students to engage alumni from many fields and various education pathways. The BioSci Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will help to expand diversity among students, faculty and staff, accelerating the translation of efforts aimed at reducing systemic inequities impacting society, and reassessing its impact to support enhancing positive change efforts in communities. The Dinner with Anteaters initiative provided an excellent venue to meet with students and collaborate over individual, campus and worldly pursuits. I enjoyed being with the students and alumni in the home setting, sharing past experiences at UCI and current comparisons of campus life today. I am repeatedly amazed by the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Each lecture event hosts a panel of experts leading in research and connecting the applicable findings impact on society.
7) What message would you like to send to the current and future donors of BioSci and why do you believe their support is so important?
It is important to give back to UCI BioSci to support, inspire and positively impact the lives of students. Active participation supports the dean’s vision, including initiatives focused on students, school, communities and the world. BioSci has a methodical approach to addressing diversity, inclusion and belonging. The school’s efforts in diversity are made stronger by the active participation of all alumni. The academic program continues to excel in world leading and meaningful research effecting the world most with real time applications to the citizens of Orange County. As an active alum, the UCI Alumni network is strengthened by the presence of each of the members and the work we ultimately do in our respective communities is benefitted by the symbiotic relationship.