Yoshizaki Has Earned a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering

Activities at UVA: American Institute of Chemical Engineers, AKAdeMiX Dance Crew

Q: Looking back to the time when you applied to UVA Engineering, why did you choose this school?

A: I chose UVA for its proximity to home and top-notch education. I saw that many UVA Engineering alumni move onto leadership roles in various industries and companies, which is a credit to the quality of the education that this institution provides.

After your time here, how are you different now – how have you grown as a person?

Through my time at UVA, I’ve taken on several leadership roles, which have helped build up my confidence in working with others. Within the ChemE department, I lead a committee in [the American Institute of Chemical Engineers] dedicated to organizing professional development opportunities, such as networking nights, alumni panels and industry tours. Through this, I’ve gotten to manage a small group of students in the committee, communicate with faculty advisors and company representatives, and work with fellow exec members to properly execute each event. Experiences like this are readily available at UVA, and have shaped me into a more proactive leader.

What was your favorite or most memorable educational experience at UVA Engineering, and why? Was there someone who helped you along your journey?

My absolute favorite memories at UVA Engineering are the times I’ve spent with the people in ChemE. Whether it’s because our department’s on the smaller side or because of how challenging the curriculum is – or both – I’ve grown close with many friends from my major, and they’ve made the experience incredibly memorable. From working on problem sets all night long in the ChemE room to cranking out mountains of lab reports, we’ve been through it all together. I feel as if I speak for all of us when I say that ChemE is one of the most tight-knit groups you can be a part of.

The faculty in ChemE are also top notch. They’re super tight with the students and show their support for us in different ways. Shoutout to Professor George Prpich: He’s been my advisor since day one and navigated me through new territory in my time as a college student, which helped open so many doors.

What’s next for you?

I’ll be working as an engineer at Genentech, a biotech company based in San Francisco producing therapeutics through recombinant DNA technology. I’ll be a part of the Process Development Rotational Program, a two-year program where members will rotate through four different areas of process development in Genentech’s Pharmaceutical Technical Development division.

What positive impact do you hope to make in the future? Is there a big societal challenge you’d like to help solve?

Through COVID-19, we saw that developing the vaccine was only half the battle for combatting the pandemic, and that disruptions in other areas like the supply chain can impact the delivery of medicine to patients. In the future, I’d like to take on roles in the pharmaceutical industry related to commercialization so that life-saving medicines are manufactured in ways that are accessible for all people.

How has UVA Engineering prepared you for your future, for following your dreams or personal mission?

The best way UVA has prepared me for the future is by teaching me the importance of and ways to go about networking. There’s a great network of UVA students, faculty and alumni who are happy to work with you, and part of what they’ve taught me is how to reach out to people in your industry whose perspectives might be valuable in your career search. As a soon-to-be alumnus, I’m looking forward to giving back that support to future students, in the same way that so many of my mentors have supported me throughout my four years.

What advice would you give to engineering students who are just starting out?

Take advantage of the wide range of opportunities that UVA has to offer, especially because your time here is limited. And when you do, don’t worry or panic if something isn’t the right fit. I joined a research lab early in my second year and found out that it’s not really my jam, and that’s totally fine! It helped me re-evaluate my wants and needs and allowed me to narrow down the opportunities that I did want to pursue.

Class of 2022: Kazu Yoshizaki

Kazu Yoshizaki has earned a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering.