Jaclynn Siler-Dearring was a whirlwind of curiosity, achievement and ambition, even as a youngster. She played violin, piano, drums and the clarinet. She took dance lessons of all kinds, starting at the age of 3. She was active in nearly every sport one could imagine. And from the age of 5, she was certain all she wanted to be was a doctor.
But as she grew and channeled her considerable energy into other aspects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, she developed an interest in another career that would allow her to combine her focus on medicine with her passion for problem solving: engineering.
“I love helping people and would like to find a cure for cancer and other diseases. Ultimately, I want to make a difference in the medical field,” said Siler-Dearring. “There is a gap and divide between the clinical experience and the engineering experience. As an engineer, I would be able to work on solving problems, not just fixing them. Medically, both doctors and engineers are necessary.”
Currently a graduate biomedical engineering student, she has already gotten her feet wet in the industry. With the experience she gained as an intern with the Office of Device Evaluation (ODE) for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the process through which medical devices are evaluated and cleared for the marketplace, she is certainly prepared for the professional world.
But the Rochester, New York, native isn't waiting until she graduates to fully immerse herself in the biomedical field experience -- and that includes taking the lead on quite a few campus opportunities. She became the president of North Carolina A&T State University’s biomedical engineering society, and later, a University Innovation Fellow. In the latter role, she was tasked with creating and promoting innovation on campus, another leadership opportunity that she eagerly embraced.
“We would like to incorporate more co-ops, internships and innovation fairs into curriculums. And we would also like to get more companies on campus, especially those that are already involved in our career fairs, and develop more business partnerships on behalf of student development,” she said. “If we can do these things, students will be better prepared once they graduate.”
Siler-Dearring has been spending a great deal of her time working toward creating and expanding makerspaces – dedicated spaces for students to work on various projects with specialized equipment and tools. She believes investing in campus makerspaces is a key step toward growing A&T’s pipeline for the next generation of entrepreneurs and professionals.
“We often have competitions on campus. If we push competitions, then students have a need to make something. They can utilize the makerspaces. The university could offer pop-up classes where students could learn certain skills,” she said. “For example, if a student needs to learn minor robotics, then the appropriate college might have a pop-up robotics class.
“The skills they learn in the pop-up class might be used in the makerspace, which will in turn help them secure a co-op and hopefully build more relationships with businesses. It’s a cycle benefitting the students, university and businesses. But all of those areas have to be cultivated.”
For Siler-Dearring, who is set to graduate in May 2017, the ultimate goal is not just to educate herself, but to make sure she enhances someone else’s life in the process.
“I love helping people,” she said. “I would be a teacher, but I know it’s just not for me, so I volunteer in classrooms. No matter what, I just love helping people.”