SBE Student Kimberly Dao Takes her Studies to the Sea

Dao during her Semester at Sea in Malta, a southern European country in the Mediterranean Sea.

Being a biology pre-medical studies student, Kimberly Dao didn’t think that studying abroad would be a possibility for her.  After hearing about the profound experience a friend had with a program called Semester at Sea, she reevaluated her options.  This previous summer, Dao enrolled in the SAS program and traveled to nine countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The multi-country study abroad program emphasizes student success and global comparative education by allowing for interdisciplinary coursework, hands-on field experiences, and engagement with the global community. Student classrooms are located on the ship and classes occur while travelling between countries. Once they arrive at a country the students are free to explore and absorb the different cultures. During this “down time”, Dao said she had the opportunity to appreciate different cultures, which is not a freedom every undergraduate gets at a traditional university.


Dao took three classes during her semester at sea: global media, introduction to global public health, and research methods.  Both global public health and research methods sparked an interest in public health for Dao, which had not been a career interest previously, but is now an area she would like to study down the line.

Dao is a fourth-year biology student with a concentration in pre-medical studies with a minor in childhood development and family relations, and is also in the Honors College.  In the fall, Dao will be attending Tufts Medical School, which was her ultimate goal coming to UMaine.  Dao was selected for the Tufts Early Action Program as a second year student, which exempts her from taking the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Instead, Dao had to fulfill a list of requirements in order to enter in to medical school.

Kimberly Dao receiving one of the three Frank H. Lathrop Scholarships last fall from Dr. Ellie Groden.

Dao has been a high achieving academic student in the School of Biology & Ecology during her time at UMaine.  She is involved in a variety of extracurriculars on campus including Student Body President, Class of 2014 President, Black Bear Mentors, and All Maine Women. She believes the extracurricular activities as an undergraduate is an important part of education, and believes that these things have helped shaped her into a well-rounded student and individual.  “I think that education is more than academics; it is about experience and learning outside the classroom,” said Dao. “I think my extracurriculars have really enhanced my undergraduate experience…I think that deadlines will always push you, but being involved in things that you love doing is key.”

By being immersed in many different cultures, Dao had the opportunity to experience education from a variety of different lenses, which enhanced her undergraduate experience and laid the foundation for a career in public health.

We wish Kimberly the best of luck with finishing up her last semester, and in Medical School in the fall!