Hanna Gebremichael, an NYU student of color, in front of a lake with a sailboat.

NYU student Hanna Gebremichael was born and raised in Manhattan. She grew up seeing NYU Violet across the city and knew the University’s immense reputation for health research. So when it came time to apply for college, she applied Early Decision I to the Biomolecular Science program at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. She was thrilled when she found out she’d been admitted. “I wanted to be an engineer and a doctor,” she says. “At NYU, there’s an emphasis on research in and out of the lab. Both were important to me as a visual and kinesthetic learner.”

A health professional uncapping a needle.

Merging Health Care and Journalism

Although Hanna has wanted to be a surgeon since she was a child, an organic chemistry class she took in high school piqued her interest in molecular biology. “I wanted to be on a premed track. So I decided to apply for a biomolecular science program at an engineering school in the best city in the world, my hometown,” she says. “This meant I could fulfill my premed course requirements while getting a sense of what it’s like to be an engineer and find solutions to a wide range of problems with an emphasis on health care.”

After experiencing some of the communications issues that came up during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanna realized she had a lot to offer in that field as well. So she decided to double-major in journalism. “Health-care communications is a massive and exponentially growing field. Therefore, it takes a lot of people to relay information to the public. During COVID-19, we experienced a lack of medical communications and saw misconceptions spread over the internet,” she says. “I found inspiration in doctors who could talk eloquently at length about their knowledge on different medical topics, their careers, and their experiences. Doctors like Sanjay Gupta and Atul Gawande.” As a result of this double major, Hanna now has something not all medical professionals can say they have: a knack for storytelling and a portfolio reel of her own cinematography, interviews, and narrative videos.

“The best advice I can give to high school students is to always take initiative and not be afraid to create the things you want to see. People who are honest and genuine and find ways to make positive change will always stand out.”

—Hanna Gebremichael

NYU students crossing a street on campus in New York City.

Building a Supportive Community

For Hanna, building a community at NYU was just as important as her academics. As an undergrad, she was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and president of the Ethiopian Eritrean Student Association. She credits a recent NSBE conference with being one of the most transformative experiences of her time at NYU. “There were so many academic and professional development workshops that helped me realize and articulate my goals and achievements in the four days we were there,” Hanna says. “I felt inspired and motivated to develop my career further and find more avenues of research.”

Since graduating this past May, Hanna is continuing her studies at NYU. She will complete her Master’s in Biomedical Engineering at NYU Tandon and focus on biomedical devices before she begins applying to medical school to become a surgeon and medical journalist.