I wanted to be in a major with an intersection of the extensive scope of biology and the analytical and convergent thinking of the physical sciences - and I found that in BIOE.
A senior in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, Mauricio (Cio) Defngin is the recipient of two merit-based scholarships from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), his country of citizenship. When he was a year old, Cio and his family moved from the village of Wanyaan on Yap, one of the FSM’s four island states.
Cio’s decision to pursue a career in bioengineering was not an easy one. In Fall 2014, he enrolled at Montgomery College as a Computer Science major. The following year, after many hours from a combination of programming and working as a Starbucks barista, Cio decided to drop the Computer Science major and take a variety of courses geared towards “undecided” students.
“In Spring 2016, I declared a major in Bioengineering at UMD,” Cio explains. “Slowly, after trial and error with different classes, I grew an interest in BIOE. In a Microbiology class, I was introduced to interesting concepts like the clinical necessity of aseptic technique and the wide expanse of different pathogenic mechanisms. In math classes like Multivariable Calculus and Differential Equations, I developed an appreciation for quantitative reasoning and problem-solving mindsets which engineers are known to embody. I wanted to be in a major with an intersection of the extensive scope of biology and the analytical and convergent thinking of the physical sciences - and I found that in BIOE.”
Cio also found academic successes in the BIOE major; last April, he received an award from the Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering at the 38th Annual Student Recognition and Alumni Celebration. The event honored STEM-major minority students who earned spots on the Dean’s List. Cio is also a member of Tau Sigma, a transfer student national honor society, participating in the organization’s community service initiatives and is a new member of the UMD chapter of Alpha Eta Mu Beta (AEMB), a national biomedical engineering honor society, and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) - where he assists in tutoring, fundraising, and undergraduate student advising.
The senior plans to one day return to the FSM. When he accepted two scholarships from the country, he pledged to return and give back to the community for the time that its government offered financial aid for his studies.
“I’ve been on both scholarships for about 3 years, so I would work back home in Yap for 3 years to fulfill the pledge of my scholarship,” Cio explains. “Because I was raised in the United States, I quickly grew to appreciate the value of community service. I learned this from recognizing the privileges afforded to those living in a first-world country, like acknowledging the differences between sleeping under a tin roof in a village like Wanyaan versus living in a townhouse in Gaithersburg.”
After graduation, Cio hopes to work in a consulting or analytical engineering position. “A career in which my customer service and interpersonal skills, as well as my analytical and investigative BIOE background can be beneficial and bring value to the community is my current goal,” he says.
In his free time, Cio enjoys rock climbing and film photography. He also occasionally attends research and finance seminars and listens to student and faculty panels on campus. Cio has also worked as a Starbucks barista for five years. He has been recognized for his-top notch customer service skills numerous times, and values day-to-day conversations with his customers.
Cio is looking forward to completing his B.S. in 2020 - and is planning a trip home to Yap following graduation.