Sai Phyo, class of 2015, is an international student from
Burma majoring in biology. He came to the United States in
the fall of 2011 to pursue his dream: to become a pediatrician.
He holds the Presidential Scholarship, the most coveted
scholarship award that the University confers. Opportunities
offered by the Honors Program were deciding factors in Sai’s
decision to attend St. John’s.
“The best part about the Honors Program is that the
classes are small. In my molecular biology class, there were
only sixteen students, and in my organic chemistry class we
had only twenty. For science majors, this is very important
because the professor can give each student immediate attention"
"Another great thing about taking honors classes is the
opportunity to make close friends. I still have the same
friends who were in my first biology, general chemistry, and
organic chemistry classes. We really have gotten to know each
other, and I think that this is very important, especially for
international students like me.”
Living alone in some regions of the United States would have
been a problem for many international students, but for Sai,
because of St. John’s location, living alone in New York City has
been a truly rewarding experience. One of the University’s
core classes, Discover New York, complemented by walking
tours run through the Honors Program has enabled students who
are not familiar with New York City to appreciate its fascinating
history and to navigate the city with ease.
“The United States is nothing like Burma," Sai observes. "Such
differences can be overwhelming; however, New York City is so
international that virtually everyone feels at home. No one is
international because everyone is. I have done many things
that I never thought I would ever do because of the Honors
Program. I have visited museums, attended the opera and
ballet, and even gone to a concert at the New York Philharmonic. I
never even dreamt that I would ever go to a ballet but so far I
have attended two and thoroughly enjoyed them.”
Before coming to St. John's, Sai did not have any knowledge
about what research really was. However, because of the
accessibility of professors at St. John’s and
immediately following his taking Honors Molecular
Biology with Dr. Timothy Carter, he has been able to
work as a volunteer in the immunology laboratory headed by Dr.
Ivana Vancurova since his second semester.
Sai’s active participation in his lab has led
to publication as co-author in the Journal of
Immunology of an article entitled “
Proteasome Inhibition by Bortezomib Increases IL-8 Expression in
Androgen-Independent Prostate Cancer Cells: The Role of
IKKα.” He has also been accepted as one of ten students to
the University’s Graduate Admission Assistance Program
After two years of working in his research lab, Sai has
found a new passion that will complement his life goal.
He wants to pursue a combined M.D./Ph.D. program and become a