Serge Nasr, a master’s student in the Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering, immigrated to the United States three years ago looking for a better future. Now this Class of 2023 graduate finds himself with a wealth of career opportunities in biomedical engineering.
“I moved away from Lebanon since my country was not doing well financially. The government and economy are both fluctuating and in a crisis, so the situation was not sustainable for my future. I had to move somewhere with opportunities for me to grow and luckily, I had applied and had a green card, so it was the easy route for me to pursue a prosperous future,” Nasr said.
Nasr applied to several schools for his graduate studies, and he ultimately chose USC because it meant he could be close to family, as they live in Southern California.
“I moved [to America] in July 2020, during the pandemic. That wasn’t an easy transition…I had to leave some of my family and friends behind, so I wanted to stay close to Southern California. And I realized [USC] aligned more with what I wanted to do based on the job I wanted to get and the connections I would need,” Nasr said.
Nasr’s research focuses on treating heart disease, and he finds it to be fulfilling because he is able to help people through his work.
His research involves mitral regurgitation, the most prevalent heart disease in the world, in which the valve between the left heart chambers doesn’t close completely, allowing blood to leak backward. The condition has limited treatment options.
“I am working with a team to help create a solution to mitigate this problem via a transcatheter heart valve. The best part about the research is knowing the positive impact this is going to achieve, keeping in mind the patient population in dire need of this treatment, along with the fascination I have to learn more about one part of the human body and realizing how complicated and unique we are as human beings,” Nasr said.
Before joining USC, Nasr graduated from the American University of Beirut in Mechanical Engineering, and it was there that his curiosity was sparked when news arose of a new biomedical engineering minor.
“What sparked my interest in BME was an email we received from our school during my third year, stating they were going to introduce the BME minor to our school with the help of a Lebanese professor who graduated from UCSD. I read the email and spoke to him to learn more about the program, and I realized that I am someone who is always willing to help people, so why not incorporate that with my degree,” Nasr said.
Through the alumni network of the American University of Beirut, Nasr met representatives from medical technology company Edwards LifeSciences, which soon led to them offering him an internship.
“Edwards LifeSciences is a medical device company that creates implantable heart valves to treat heart disease. I really liked what they did, and they mentioned that USC was a target school, so I think that pushed me to get back to school to get an internship [at Edwards LifeSciences],” Nasr said.
Nasr has been interning for Edwards LifeScience for over a year but wants to continue growing and stepping out of his comfort zone and not settle in his career.
“I’ve moved around a lot, and I never had a sense of certainty which always stressed me out. But right now, I feel more comfortable and relaxed. I don’t like to mention long term because a lot of stuff can happen. Three years ago, I wasn’t planning on attending grad school at all,” Nasr said.
Outside of engineering, Nasr has interesting pursuits, such as volunteering to help during the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) ‘s Asia World Cup in 2017.
“I was helping players get accustomed to their needs, everything from logistics at their hotel to if they wanted recommendations on going out to explore the country at the time. I really bonded with the New Zealand team; they were a cool bunch. When they came back to play for the World Cup qualifiers, they played an away game in Lebanon, and they invited me to be there as a team attaché… I’ve never met people from New Zealand, so I was very fortunate to show them my country from my lens,” Nasr said.
Nasr suggests that USC students should take advantage of the clubs and organizations on campus, and if there is not a club for their topic of interest, they should simply create the club themselves.
“The clubs I was involved in [at USC] were mainly the Trojan Knights, which was an amazing organization where I was able to indulge in the history and culture of USC, and the Lebanese club, which was a social club where I had the chance to interact with people from similar cultural background, especially at times where I felt homesick,” Nasr said.
Looking back at his time at USC, Nasr is a strong advocate for stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself toward your goals.
“Go out and try things, whether you like it or not… It’s a matter of getting out of your comfort zone. You’re going to feel nervous, just channel that nervousness into excitement and go do it…Even if you’re not where you want to be now, just know that today was better than where you were a week ago,” Nasr said.
Published on May 11th, 2023
Last updated on May 11th, 2023