School of MCB COVID-19 Information
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MCB Pre-Health and Professional Mentorship Program, Formerly "MCB Pathways to Health Careers"

We are excited to be planning our 11th year for The MCB Pre-Health and Professional Mentorship Program! While it began as an opportunity for students interested in medicine, it has grown to include alumni mentors in all health careers as well as those in research, biotechnology, and other related professions. The program connects undergraduate students with alumni already practicing in the field. At this time, it is only available to declared Biology, MCB and Biochemistry majors. In 2013, the mentorship program received the IlliAAC Outstanding Established Program Award and was recognized in an article published in the December 2015 LAS Alumni Magazine.

Initiated in 2010 by alumnus Richard Berkowitz, MD ('79 Biology) and Tina Knox, Coordinator of Undergraduate Instruction ('92 Biology), the program has grown to include more than 100 UIUC Biology alumni. Each fall, The School of MCB hosts a panel of alumni, who share their story and answer any questions students might have regarding career preparation in healthcare or another MCB-related profession. This event serves as a kick off for the alumni mentorship program.

Due to the pandemic, we are not making formal mentorship matches this year. Instead we are hosting a weekly career talk series called "MCB Alumni Connections" featuring alumni from our mentoring program. Each week, we will host an MCB graduate via Zoom. They will talk about a variety of topics, including their time at Illinois and their career paths. There will also be time for questions from students, so you'll be able to connect directly with our extensive network of alumni. As the year progresses, we plan to feature MCB alumni working in a variety of professions, including medical doctors, physician assistants, dentists, pharmaceutical & biotechnology researchers, academics, and more. We also hope to offer panel discussions with alumni on special topics, such as COVID-19 and MD-PhD programs. We are hosting prominent alumni who have been involved with our program and hope that you will join us for this exciting opportunity to network with Biology and MCB alums.

We'll be posting about the alumni career series throughout the year in Road MAP and on our social media pages, so watch closely for our posts. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Tina Knox at

Pictured here are Dr. Berkowitz and one of his mentees, Pha Thaprawat, May 2017 MCB graduate.

Dr. Berkowitz is the recipient of the 2020 LAS Distinguished Service award. Hear from Dr. Berkowitz as he provides suggestions for success at LAS Alumni Awards.

In order to be matched with a mentor, students in Biology, MCB, or Biochemistry must apply to the program. An application form link will be avaialble here when we are able to make formal matches again. Students wanting to learn more about this opportunity should read, A Letter to Students, or watch this video by Dr. Berkowitz.

Applications for the mentorship program will be evaluated by MCB instructional staff, who will then rank applicants based on year in school, area of interest, GPA, and goals for the experience. Ideally, students chosen to participate in the program will be paired with a mentor based on their specific career goals and geographic location.  We will match as many students as possible, based on mentor availability.

Information on becoming an Alumni Mentor

We encourage mentors to provide one or two shadowing opportunities per year (if possible) and to keep in touch with their student(s) via phone, email or virtually through Zoom, Skype, or Facetime during the rest of the year. Mentors can provide students with valuable information regarding health professions, industry-based professions and other exciting biology-related careers. Mentors may also provide advice on the application and interview process for professional and graduate school. In return, our students keep the mentors connected to the University and to the School of MCB.

There are currently over 100 participating mentors in various professions and geographic regions, and the program is always looking to recruit new members.

To sign up to become an alumni mentor, please fill out this Online Registration Form. For questions or additional information please contact Tina Knox or reference A Letter to Alumni, written by Dr. Berkowitz.