Throughout her time as an undergraduate at Harvard, Ilisten has remained committed to leadership and service. During her freshman year, she worked with the AHEAD after school program as a tutor and mentor for disadvantaged elementary school students. After having served as a college peer counselor in high school, Ilisten sought out a way to use this experience to help students in Cambridge. To this end, she joined forces with the CHANCE program, which provides free SAT preparation and college advising to nearby high school students.
After learning that many of her college peers were dissatisfied with the health care they received at the university’s health services, Ilisten decided to do something to effect change. As a sophomore, she joined the Student Health Advisory Council, which advocates for student health interests. A year later, as chair of the Council, Ilisten met with the chiefs of medical departments at the university to voice student concerns and to present data that catalyzed improvements in the quality of student health care.
In addition to her public service, Ilisten has continued to nurture her interest in biomedical research. After her sophomore year, she was selected to participate in the Stanford Summer Research Program. There, Ilisten collaborated with the Department of Developmental Biology on a screen for new genes involved in dorsoventral patterning in the zebrafish. Back at Harvard, she joined the efforts of her advisor in the Biochemical Sciences Department to discern differences in transcriptional regulation amongst various HIV subtypes.
Ilisten is now a pediatrics resident, exploring her interests in health policy and advocacy at the UCLA Center for Healthier Children.