6 questions with Karyl Kopaskie, AB’07, PHD’14

Karyl Kopaskie, PhD  - 2023 - MoM - JAPW - 081023 - 6.jpg

By Sarah Richards

Karyl Kopaskie, AB’07, PhD’14, is the new Alumni Council President for the University of Chicago Medical & Biological Sciences Alumni Association (MBSAA). After her graduate studies in microbiology, Kopaskie fell in love with healthcare and is now a principal of intelligence at Sg2, a healthcare consulting company that leverages expertise and analytics to help health systems anticipate the future with unique strategic solutions.

How did you first become involved with the University of Chicago MBSAA?

I have long been passionate about helping students and alumni prepare to make career transitions. In my last year of grad school, fellow council member Katie M.L. Given, AB’08, PhD’13, MBA’16, MD’16, and I, along with two of our colleagues, created the Student Alumni Independent Leadership program to help students and young alumni build stronger networks. While we were working to get this project off the ground, we were delighted to learn that the BSD had applied for and won a grant to create the myCHOICE program, providing a strong foundation for students and alumni to launch successful careers. It was very reaffirming that the University recognized this need as well!

You are now just the second BSD graduate to hold the position of UChicago MBSAA President, following Lorna Straus, LAB’49, SM’60, PhD’62. BSD alumni currently represent one quarter of the Alumni Council, compared to 4 percent 10 years ago. Can you speak to this change?

This is a testament to the last several years of MBSAA leadership engaging young BSD alumni. There’s a real opportunity for cross-networking and cross-collaboration by more deliberately integrating our clinical counterparts from Pritzker, the Medical Scientist Training Program and current BSD students.

You’ve been very involved with the myChoice program. Why do you feel this program is so important for our BSD trainees?

It’s essential that trainees appreciate they have a breadth of options coming from UChicago. In the grind of doing your dissertation, it’s easy to focus on just getting the research done. myChoice helps students realize their PhD and time at UChicago is a piece of a larger career journey — whether they end up in academics, industry or different field altogether.

You are one of two Alumni Council representatives serving on the University of Chicago Alumni Board. Can you tell us about what you’ve gained from your experience as a member of the UChicago Alumni Board?

For me, it’s a way to learn from the fabulous folks we have across the whole campus. It’s fascinating to see the collaboration across all the different parts of the University community and highlight the great work of our alumni. We all have this passion for knowledge, this love of conversation and interrogating an idea to get to its core.

Can you tell us about your leadership priorities?

One of my priorities is better understanding how we can meet the needs of this diverse community we’ve worked hard to build. We’ve seen a ton of progress, especially on the BSD side, in supporting students. Is there something more we can learn from those efforts to support our broader alumni community? Can we better support collaboration among these communities?

You’ve been a donor to the BSD since you graduated. What motivated you to give back so soon after graduating, and why have you continued your loyal support of the University of Chicago?

My favorite entities to donate to are myChoice and the Odyssey Scholarship, which supports lower-income and first-generation College students. I think these two efforts speak to UChicago’s commitment to inquiry and diversity of ideas and perspective both for students and alumni.

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