Biomedical engineering student Rachel Zhang enters her senior year with a pretty cool side gig—drum major for the 125th Michigan Marching Band. It’s a lot of added time and responsibility for the West Lafayette, Ind. native along with her regular course load.
In addition to daily rehearsals during the week, a typical game day at home with a noon kickoff starts with run-throughs at 7 a.m. and ends after the last of the crowd has gone home 10 hours later.
But Zhang, 21, seems prepared to handle it all—from the books to the backbends to all the things crowds never see.
“The only pressure comes when I think about the invisible responsibilities of leading the band,” Zhang said. “From my experience, the drum major was an important role model and, honestly, a friend and support for band members.. The previous majors I had were real mentors through my first three years of college.”
After graduation, Zhang intends to take a gap year working in the medical field before applying to medical school. That year will give her the kind of patient care experience she needs to help her decide what kind of doctor she wants to be.