Joint degree reveals unexpected passions, career options

October 06, 2016

By Diane Mar-Nicolle

When Daniel Paulino entered SFU he was focused on becoming a physician, and tailored his undergraduate studies to meet medical school acceptance requirements.

He pursued a joint degree in molecular biology and biochemistry and in computing science; joined SFU’s Phi Delta Epsilon (a group of students intent on becoming physicians), and sought co-op education job placements related to the medical field.

Along the way, he discovered that a joint degree program, coupled with co-op education experiences, can reveal unexpected passions and career options.

Through co-op placements at Microsoft and the Genome Sciences Centre, he discovered a passion for bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary scientific field that develops methods and software for analyzing biological data.

“Working at the Genome Sciences Centre showed me how much I enjoyed developing bioinformatic computer programs,” says Paulino.  “Knowing these tools could one day help in treating or diagnosing health problems was fulfilling work.”

Helping those with health problems is a dream close to Paulino’s heart, since his mother struggles with Lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease. When he was nine, his family emigrated to Canada from the Philippines in hopes of improving her medical care.

Recently, Paulino created an app to remind her when it’s time to take her medications.

To pay for his university tuition, Paulino taught sports at his local recreation centre, worked in co-op placements and earned scholarships.

Med school is still a goal for Paulino, but he plans to take a break from studying and seek a full-time position in the field of bioinformatics.

“Not only does bioinformatics contain the perfect blend of my two interests—genetics and computer science—it also gives me several career options spanning medicine and bioinformatics,” he says.

 “SFU’s growing number of joint major programs are invaluable to students. We don’t have to decide between two interests anymore.”