Joaquin Gonzalez, bioengineering major, poses for a headshot on the Stockton campus.
Outstanding Student
Joaquin Gonzalez

Major: Bioengineering

Graduation year: 2023

Hometown: Brentwood, California

Extracurriculars: Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, ASuop senator

Joaquin Gonzalez is a senior bioengineering student graduating in Spring 2023. The personal connections he’s formed with professors and peers were highlights of his unique Pacific experience. A natural leader and altruist, Joaquin hopes to use his degree to design products that will help others and save lives. 

What made you want to study bioengineering?

I really wanted to do something that could blend my fascination for math and science with my passion for helping others. I considered a lot of different fields, but when I heard about bioengineering, I felt like that would allow me to pursue my interests in science and make a social impact. I’m interested in the mechanical side, designing products that will be used by surgeons, doctors, and biomedical professionals to help save lives.

What drew you to study at Pacific?

When I toured Pacific, one thing that stood out was everyone’s eagerness to get to know me. During my tour, I had the opportunity to meet with an academic adviser, who broke down my four years at Pacific, and Dr. Shelly Gulati, Associate Professor and Chair of Bioengineering, who discussed classes I would take and topics I would study. It was cool that she ended up being one of my future professors.

Even though I wasn’t committed, I could tell that everyone wanted me to succeed. Other university tours felt cookie-cutter, but Pacific’s was tailor-made and personalized for me. It made Pacific stand out and was ultimately why I chose to go here.

How have your professors impacted your time at Pacific?

Pacific’s small class sizes allowed me to form strong connections with my professors. Regardless of how busy Dr. Gulati was, she always made time for her students. I took Biotransport, BENG 130, with her, and she slowed down, walked me through it and helped me understand the difficult math concepts. She’s a big inspiration because she’s such a hard-working individual.

Dr. Jeff Burmeister, Associate Professor and Director of Bioengineering, is my academic advisor and another Pacific professor who stands out to me. Every conversation with him is a roller coaster, and he makes you think a lot about your life and what you want to do with it. I’ve enjoyed all his classes.

What academic resources and support have you received at Pacific to help you succeed?

Some of Pacific’s math courses were difficult, but the tutors at the math tutoring center were helpful. They showed me different ways to approach problems compared to how my professors initially demonstrated it in class. Learning multiple ways to solve a problem was beneficial.

Additionally, my bioengineering cohort is close. We would see each other in the same classes every semester, and we would form study groups. Getting together and having the ability to bounce ideas off each other helped me to succeed.

Can you describe your senior project?

My amazing team and I are designing an insole rate of force development sensor. Basically, we are putting a pressure sensor made of piezoresistive material in the bottom of a shoe that will interface with a computer and show exactly what the foot is doing at any point in time. Our senior project design class sparked the idea, and we think that the insightful data our sensor provides will help physicians heal patients with leg and foot injuries.

In the future I hope to design similar products, so this experience has been very valuable. We have about 12 weeks to get a prototype up and running to present at our senior project day. It’s quick but similar to research and design projects in the real world.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in on campus?

I was an ASuop senator for three years and that allowed me to be very connected with Pacific. I helped student organizations get funding as the chair of the Finance Board. I also served as the president of Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) in 2021, and I am currently a resident assistant.

Through these leadership roles, I’ve learned a lot about interpersonal connections, conflict resolution and time management. I think it's really important that students find a work-life balance. I wanted to be successful in my major, but I also wanted to have a college experience that I could look back on and say that I did some really unique things and met some really cool people. Looking back, I am happy to say I did.