International Students


Student profile - Denisse Avila

Name: Denisse Avila
Country of Domicile: Chile
Degree: MSc Biochemical Engineering

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

I am currently studying a MSc in Biochemical Engineering at UCL. Since a young age I have been always curious about chemical and biological sciences. Initially, I did my undergraduate degree in biochemistry in Chile. This experience helped me to grow a deep interest in drug development and the application of biochemistry to change people's life.

Denisse Avila

This was the main reason why I chose this postgraduate degree, to learn bioprocess development and how to transform scientific advances in technological innovations with industrial relevance. I hope in the future to develop these skills further and apply this knowledge in my professional career. I am very excited about it since this could have a direct impact on improving people's quality of life, for instance by developing bioprocesses for new drugs, or by redesigning biological processes for cheaper and more affordable medicines.

If you could go back in time to before you applied to UCL would there, be any advice you would give yourself about applying for your masters?

First of all, it is important to choose what you really want and do not decide thinking about the expectations society has upon you. If you do what you want, challenges are easier and you love every step. This also help you to get out always the best of you. So, my first advice is: do not try to please the expectations of others but just follow your passion.
Secondly, search and choose thinking about the best option for the future and without focusing on the limitations. There is always a way. If in doubt, just ask, no one expect you to know things in advance. At UCL there is always staff available to answer all your questions. This was my case, and they were really helpful to guide me during my decision making and application process.
Finally, be flexible and stay positive. Not everything will be perfect. You will have to face some difficulties and problems, but usually there is always a way forward, and you could find solutions in one way or another.

What was your biggest challenge to coming to study in the UK and how did you overcome this?

My biggest challenge has been believing on myself. Being a woman and coming from a small country adds up to the lack of confidence of not being good enough to be successful in a top world university. Overcoming this fear has been my biggest challenge.
In this regard, the support of my family and friends have helped me tremendously. They usually had more confidence in me than I had in myself. This made me realise we should not close the door to new opportunities without even trying. So far, my experience at UCL helped me to confirm this, already feeling more confident in my abilities and not afraid anymore of facing new opportunities.

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL and in London?

London is an amazing place and there are many hidden gems. For instance, I love being surrounded by people with different cultural backgrounds and histories. I feel that an important point of studying abroad is being able to share with people also originated in other places and countries and be part of a rich and vibrant cultural exchange.
Besides, a hidden gem I discovered is UCL Main Quad Christmas lights displayed during December. The moment when the sun comes down and you find the Christmas lights switched on while you walk under the trees, it is like something out of a movie.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

The thing that may surprise you is that I love sewing, and I have been using the sewing machine since I was less than ten years old. Some of my favourite clothes have been made by myself, just as I use this ability to repair clothes that come into my hands.

Do you have anything further you would like to add/share?

My priority when coming to London was focus on my studies. Despite this, I have to address the importance of making new friends and taking the time to meet people and share experiences with them. Having these experiences is as important as the studies itself, and I already feel these memories will be an important part of my life.