Plant & Wildlife Sciences Honored Student
The video automatically plays on mute, please select unmute on the bottom left side of the video to hear Rachel Hughes' message.
Congratulations on your graduation! Completing your degree indicates that you have learned how to learn. Your education at BYU is just the beginning of what can be a life of learning.Remember your experiences, as well as the professors, mentors, family members, TA’s and other significant individuals that helped you get this far. Most importantly, remember to pay it forward. Provide others with the opportunities and mentoring that was so graciously offered to us.Secondly,you don’t have to know everything that you want right now. You also don’t have to have the perfect career plan right now. Allow yourself the time and experiences that you need to properly make decisions about your future.Finally, remember that your degree becomes most meaningful when you use it to bless and improve the lives of others. You entered, you learned, and now you get to decide in what capacity you will serve.
About Rachel Hughes
Plant and Wildlife Sciences graduate, Rachel Hughes, discovered her passion for science at a young age. “I loved learning about genetics in high school. It was such a small unit in sophomore biology, but those Punnett squares drew me in,” she says. Shortly after beginning school at Brigham Young University, Hughes found the genetics, genomics, and biotechnology major.
Hughes joined Dr. John Chaston’s metagenomic lab, where she has worked for the last four years. Under Chaston’s mentorship, she has pursued several large projects, often focused on the impact of microorganisms on their hosts, and developed her skills as a researcher and presenter. Hughes appreciates the time Chaston takes to advise his students on research, graduate studies, career options, and life. Hughes has also participated in research at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and the University of Pennsylvania. During her time at BYU, Hughes has presented at several conferences and contributed to five publications.
When Hughes isn’t in the lab or studying, she is volunteering at the Utah Valley Hospital, helping with blood drives, or assisting with the BYU genetics club. In her free time, Hughes enjoys hiking, climbing, running, and camping, especially with friends. She also enjoys visiting home when she can, in Elwood, a small town in northern Utah.
Hughes expresses appreciation to everyone who has helped her get to where she is: “I feel so grateful to all of the people—my parents, professors, mentors, and friends that directed me and impacted my experience at BYU. I interacted with so many professors on BYU campus that care tremendously about their students. Professors like Mary Davis, Johnathan Hill, David Jarvis, Steven Johnson, David Busath, and too many others to mention.”
After considering a PhD in genetics or MD PhD, Hughes is currently applying for physician assistant graduate programs. She advises undergraduate students to take a little extra time exploring their options so they can figure out what they really want to study and do.