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Angela Li studies biology and visual art. Her busy schedule is split between working on stone setting in metals and researching gene expression with fruit flies. 

Double majoring may seem like an educational balancing act of sorts, but senior biology and visual arts major Angela Li is up to the task.

Li started her undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas as a pre-med biology major but said she added the visual arts major her sophomore year in an effort to establish equilibrium between her scientific and creative passions.

“Growing up I did a lot of fine arts,” Li said. “And then in high school, they offered a lot of different elective credits. Jewelry metals was really the one [class that interested me most]. When I graduated high school, I didn’t think I would be able to do it in college. But things worked out.”

In the field of visual arts, Li’s concentration is metalsmithing. As far as her studies in biology go, Li said she has spent a great deal of time in the lab this semester.

“The lab focus is on fruit fly studies,” Li said. “We do a concentration in the genetics and gene expression.”

In addition to her undergraduate studies, Li is also involved with Phi Delta Epsilon, a medical fraternity.

Senior microbiology major Coral Walker met Li through recruitment for the fraternity, and Li ended up being one of his “littles.” Walker said he respects the amount of time and work Li dedicates to her education.

“To have any double major requires a lot of work,” Walker said. “Especially considering the diversity between her two majors. Both take a lot of time, but in different ways.”

As far as time management goes, Li said she experienced an undeniable learning curve.

“The time management at first was really tough,” Li said. “Even to this day, it’s like, ‘Well I just spent six hours in the studio on Wednesday, and now I have to spend five hours in the lab collecting data for my thesis.’ But now it’s always low key. It just keeps you on your toes.”

Walker acknowledged that Li’s choice to study the two disciplines must require a considerable time investment, which he said is telling of Li’s character.

“I think she has an incredible work ethic,” Walker said. “When she’s not studying for a biology exam, she’s in the studio working on a project and vice versa.”

Although the combination of pre-med science and visual arts may sound unique, Li said she is not the only student at the University who has chosen such a path.

“There is a freshman [in Phi Delta Epsilon] who is a neuroscience major and visual arts double major,” Li said. “I also have a friend who is also pre-med, and she is an arts minor. Another girl in my year is a chemistry and visual arts double major. They are few and far between, but they’re there.”

For students who choose to tackle a double major, Li advises them to consider how rewarding the choice may be in the end and realize that there is a lot of flexibility available in undergraduate studies.

“Even though [science and art] might seem really different, it is a great combination, and there is a lot more in common than you would expect,” Li said. “It’s important to keep with it even when the going gets hard because it will be worth it in the end.”

Looking into the future, Li plans to attend medical school at the University. She said her “end game” is to become a physician.

“I just interviewed at KU Med for medical school about a month ago,” Li said. “And I’ve applied to some other medical schools. So if things go according to plan, I’ll be attending medical school in the fall. But if not, that’s perfectly fine. I’ll take a couple years and get some work experience.”

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