Malik Elasha is a physics major transferring to the University of California, Berkeley following his graduation from Cypress College. He is a STEM scholar who hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics and move on to an industry career researching nanotechnology.
Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?
I was born and raised in Garden Grove. For the first half of high school, I attended Pacifica, but due to getting sick, I had to attend an online school called Pacific Coast for my remaining time of high school. Also due to my sickness, I had missed out on several classes and didn’t have the required units to graduate, so I took a proficiency exam to test out of high school and start at community college. I have a profound interest in physics and my hobbies are playing basketball and tennis, reading, and playing video games.
Why did you choose Cypress College?
I chose Cypress due to it being ten minutes from my home, as well as hearing a lot of good things about the school’s STEM Department. After attending for a semester, I decided that I really enjoyed all the professors I had taken classes with, and I heard about the (STEM)2 Program from several students I had met in my classes. Between the incredible faculty and the amazing opportunities in the (STEM)2 Program, I decided that staying at Cypress College was the best decision I could make.
What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?
During my time at Cypress College, I have been involved in the (STEM)2 Program. My time in the program has exposed me to so many incredible friends who are also pursuing a STEM major, as well as many amazing opportunities that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. (STEM)2 has allowed me to learn from the experiences of so many amazing guest speakers and provided me with many different opportunities to apply for research programs and internships. Thanks to (STEM)2, I was accepted to do research at the University of California, San Diego as a part of the school’s Summer Training Academy for Research Success. The (STEM)2 Program was a large part of my life at Cypress College, from the lessons I have learned, to all the wonderful study groups and friendships that I have formed with other individuals in the program.
What are you most passionate about? Why?
I am very passionate about my physics studies. As a physics major, the things I learn in my physics classes will stay with me for the rest of my time in school as well as throughout my career. I am passionate about physics because it is an incredible science that teaches me so many amazing things about how the world works and how I can work to improve it. My passion is further fueled by my motivation to use the things I learn to make a difference in the world by researching nanotechnology.
Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?
During my time at Cypress College, I have had absolutely incredible professors who have all made a really big impact on my life and education. The two faculty that have had the most impact on me are Professor Christina Plett and Professor Brinda Subramaniam. Professor Plett has been a very large influence on me during my time in her 250A and 250B classes. Her passion for math and the joy she has teaching it really gave me a much better perspective on the subject. Her class has led me to really enjoy math, appreciate all the applications of what we learn, and to want to learn more about math.
Dr. Subramaniam has been influential in helping me to decide what I want to study within physics. Not only was her incredible teaching of electricity and magnetism very educational for me, but during my time in her class, she gave me a lot of advice on what she recommends for me to pursue in physics as well as advice on which schools I should apply to and why. These two professors have changed my future and my perspective on my education, and for that I will be forever grateful.
What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
From Cypress College, I will be transferring to the University of California, Berkeley where I will continue to work toward my undergrad in physics. I hope to get involved in undergraduate research in condensed matter physics while I am at Cal.
What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?
My long-term educational goal is to complete a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics. I aspire to use that Ph.D. to pursue an industry career researching nanotechnology. I currently plan to finish my undergrad in physics at UC Berkeley, complete a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics, work on industry research in nanotechnology, and toward the end of my career I want to take what I learned from my long time in school as well as my career and teach the next generation of engineers and scientists.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of how far I have come in these two years I have spent at Cypress College. When I started here, I set a goal for myself to give all my time and effort to my education and to do the best I can in all my classes. I am proud that I was able to stick with that and dedicate all of my time to studying and maintaining my 4.0 GPA.
What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?
The best advice I could give to any student is to work hard, focus on your education, and don’t be afraid to open up to your professors. Give your utmost effort and time to education since the return for what is put in is incomparable. Being dedicated and committed to doing the best you can in all your classes will go a long way toward helping you accomplish both your educational and career goals.
I would also advise students to open up to their professors and ask them for advice. Professors really want to help their students and can give great advice on how to better prepare for classes. Professors can also provide students with information on their fields of interest and their own experiences to help students make decisions on what degrees and careers they want to pursue.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I want to say thank you. Thank you to all the incredible friends who helped me stay motivated and focused even as our classes got more and more difficult. Thank you to the wonderful faculty who have expanded my knowledge and education, helped me find the path I wish to pursue, and have helped get me to take this next step of transferring to UC Berkeley.