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UConn experience has helped
clarify Cho's mission in life
April 20, 1998

Abraham Cho came to UConn with a single-minded mission to become a doctor. Two years later, his life has changed dramatically, as he assumes a quest of faith.

Cho is a sophomore, majoring in molecular and cell biology, who recently was admitted into the Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honors societies and has made the Dean's List every semester. He also is a Babbidge Scholar, recognized for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average in both spring and fall semesters, 1997.

He selected UConn over Dartmouth College and Tulane University, opting to take up the offer of a Day of Pride Top 15 Scholarship, rather than academic grants and a tuition waiver at the other universities.

He says he also was attracted by the reputation of the Honors Program as challenging and rigorous, and has welcomed other challenges that UConn provides. "The University offers so many activities, academic, social and athletic," he says. "It requires an immense amount of discipline to pick the ones which are the most profitable and to budget one's time accordingly."

In addition to his coursework, Cho seized the opportunity to undertake research for a senior thesis on artificial proteases. He presented some of his findings in "The Site-Specific Cleavage of Proteins by Artificial Proteases" at the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research program during the weekend.

Cho is studying proteases - molecules such as enzymes that break up proteins - and how they bind to proteins. By analyzing the interaction of cobalt proteases, which are artificial proteases created for lab analysis, he can understand how protein structure affects its activity.

"We think that these proteases bind to very specific sites on the protein much like the 'lock and key' model of enzymes," he says. "This can lead to easier sequencing of proteins because it's easier to sequence short fragments than the extremely long protein. Since these protease molecules bind and cut proteins, we may be able to use them to turn enzymes 'on' and 'off' whenever we want. This could have important medical applications."

In addition to academic knowledge, Cho has discovered that life can send you in unexpected directions. "I originally decided on an MCB major with the intent of going to medical school upon graduation," he says. "Since then, however, my career goals have changed - some would say rather drastically. I'm looking into an individualized major, hopefully combining biology with philosophy or theology."

Cho's involvement in a small Christian fellowship on campus, Faith Christian Fellowship, sparked his interest in ministry. He has been vice president of the fellowship for the past two years and has had first-hand experience at ministering..

He also leads a weekly Bible Study, is a Sunday School teacher and is involved in two groups that get together to share common problems and encourage one another. A former member of the Student Alumni Association, he continues to play intramural volleyball.

Through an individualized major, Cho hopes to explore such issues as scientific evidence favoring the idea of Creation.

"It seems that in any intellectual endeavor, all valid theories should be presented and the individual left with the ultimate decision of which one to adhere to," he says, adding that whereas the concept of evolution is widely accepted, creationism is often regarded as naive.

"College has thus far allowed me to explore my faith and to experience first-hand that which I have been taught second-hand," he says. "After graduation, I've decided to enter a seminary and possibly go overseas as a missionary."

Renu Aldrich