Molly Monge is a force of nature — graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and biophysics with a 4.0 GPA and doing it in just three years, while being the president of the Women@Rensselaer Mentor Program (WMP), playing flute in the orchestra and at Sunday services at the Chapel + Culture Center, and mentoring students through I-PERSIST and other classes and labs.
While a high school junior in her hometown of Amsterdam, New York, Monge was a Rensselaer Medal Award recipient. She applied to other schools, but after visiting campus and meeting with some of the biology department faculty, she knew Rensselaer would be a good fit. “All the faculty I met were very nice and I got really good vibes,” she said. The strong reputation for STEM education, the opportunities for research, and the scholarships she received made Rensselaer a clear first choice.
Taking 21 to 23 credits per semester enabled Monge to graduate early which, she says, makes her more competitive with graduate school applications. It also afforded her the opportunity to have a full year of research between graduation from Rensselaer and graduate school, and she is headed to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she was awarded a Post-Baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA). Her plan is to continue in an M.D./Ph.D. program so she can not only see patients, but also focus on genetics research. Monge is currently doing research in the Swank Laboratory for Muscle Physiology and Disease Research.
Monge has played the flute since 5th grade and the opportunity to play with performer Josh Groban, a favorite of hers, and at Carnegie Hall “was a dream come true,” she said. “When the lights came up and we were on stage at Carnegie Hall, it was surreal.” She had never played in an orchestra before and it was out of her comfort zone, but her mentor suggested it and Monge is glad she auditioned. She said the NIH has a symphony orchestra and she plans to audition there as well.
The WMP has been important to Monge since her freshman year and she has been the president for the past two years. “It is the most fulfilling program. I meet so many people and I enjoy helping women develop skills like time management and professional development,” she said.
One of Monge’s most important lessons learned at Rensselaer was to wait for the data. When she thought she had failed a physics final and was upset, she said her professor told her to “be a good scientist and wait for the data.” As it turns out, she passed the final and realized it’s not always about the grade. And finishing her final year of college during a pandemic taught Monge that sometimes things don’t go your way. “You just have to become resilient and find other opportunities,” she said.
Monge will be studying for the MCAT, doing some kayaking, and relaxing during her one-month break between graduation and the start of her fellowship.