Kirsten Hargett chose to study biomedical sciences because she wanted to stretch herself.
UW Tacoma senior Kirsten Hargett is “a human plant. I need sunshine.” Hargett’s description of herself came following a question about the pandemic. You may remember that the grey, gloomy weather stretched into early July last year. Hargett is very social and the restrictions put in place due to COVID-19 combined with the drab conditions made life difficult for the biomedical sciences and psychology major.
Sunshine isn’t the only thing Hargett needs to thrive. “Education was always big in our house,” she said. “My parents wanted my sister and I to be well-rounded and to know what’s going on in the world. They always told us ‘Why choose to not know when you’ve been given the resources to know?’ ”
Born in Virginia, Hargett moved to Washington before the start of her sophomore year in high school. Hargett graduated from Bonney Lake High School and planned to attend the University of Arizona. “I just couldn’t bring myself to go $150,000 in debt by age 22, especially since I wanted to go to med school,” she said.
Hargett took a few months to rethink her plans. “I chose UW Tacoma because it just seemed like I didn’t have to try to be something that I wasn’t,” she said. “I could just be myself and I would be accepted for who I am.”
“I chose biomedical sciences because I wanted to stretch myself and with biomed you get physics, you get biochem, you get chemistry. It’s more of a well-rounded degree path,”
— UW Tacoma senior Kirsten Hargett.
Hargett has been busy during her time on campus. She has served as the outreach coordinator for the Student Activities Board (SAB) as well as chair of SAB. Hargett currently serves as the Director of Internal Affairs for ASUWT.
As if that wasn’t enough, Hargett has also conducted research with Assistant Professor Kelly Kim,an organic chemist in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. “I’m working with Dr. Kim on a bioactive way to defeat Chagas disease, which is prevalent in tropical areas and often neglected,” said Hargett. “I also was able to create my very own independent research project where I’m looking at the presence of bacteria on feminine hygiene products and to verify the FDA standards they are held too.”
Some of this work is being done on campus and some is being done at RAIN, the biotech incubator a few blocks south of campus. Off campus, Hargett has also worked as a behavioral therapist at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Tacoma. “I’ve been in this position for a little over a year and I love it,” she said. “I enjoy working with clients and finding ways to help them succeed.”
Hargett is set to graduate in June 2021. After graduation she will move to San Francisco and begin her work in a pulmonary lab. She is expecting to apply to a medical scientist training program next summer. Seems like the human plant that is Kirsten Hargett found a good place to grow.
In a story about increasing exposure to wildfire smoke in our region, Associate Professor Robin Evans-Agnew talks about the resulting increased prevalence of asthma and its inequitable burden on society.