This week we meet first year Biological Sciences student Lia Bote, who is founder of London COVID-19 Care Central, a student-led initiative publishing updates on the pandemic for students.
What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
I’ve just finished the first year of my Biological Sciences degree, with the Cell Biology concentration from second year onwards. Growing up in the Philippines, where both the healthcare and education systems are largely inefficient and inaccessible, I’ve always been interested in biomedical research and particularly how medical developments can be brought to low and middle-income countries. I’m also passionate about science communications and ensuring that accurate information is as widely accessible as possible, driven by the belief that an informed population is an empowered population. I’m excited to explore both of these fields in the future!
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
As founder and project leader for Covid Care , I’ve gotten to work with dozens of student volunteers who share my passion for accessible information and dedication to inspiring youths to take action. Through my involvement with this initiative, I’ve also helped with launching the Visions for a World after COVID-19 competition , in collaboration with the UCL Institute of Education and the political website openDemocracy, where students aged fourteen and up have the opportunity to draw from their experiences and reflect on how we can build a better post-pandemic world.
COVID-19 has both highlighted and aggravated many long-standing systemic inequalities, and I am encouraged to see young voices call for change against these issues and take an active role in building our future. I am grateful for the opportunity to help create a platform for these voices, and excited see how they can turn their ideas into action!
Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?
There’s a small Asian take-out spot near my first year accommodation hall, called Tree Pan Asian, that I love. They have student discounts, serve massive portions of fried rice, and always make me feel like home. The lady who runs the shop is super sweet, she used to give my friends and I free prawn crackers!
Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:
Visit museums. Most of them are free and offer an enriching experience, especially if you love art, history, and culture. I went to the British Museum twice in one day!
Visit a food market. There are the big, famous ones like Borough or Camden, which have a lot of options and food from around the world. There’s even a farmer’s market every Thursday right next to UCL!
Watch a play. If you love theatre like me, you definitely have to catch a West End musical, a drama at the Old Vic, or a take on Henry VI at Shakespeare’s Globe.
If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?
I’d set up more water filling stations around campus (the second floor of the Science Library is the only one I’ve found with a fountain), and then I’d work to make UCL’s outsourced workers in-house.
Who inspires you and why?
My parents are definitely my biggest inspiration. My mom has always taught me to be empathetic, compassionate, and prayerful, while my dad continually reminds me of the value of hard-work, passion, and ambition. I am inspired to try and live by these values, keeping my desire to make a difference grounded in my desire to contribute positively to humanity.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I’m barely five feet tall. When I spoke at my high school graduation, we had to get a stool because you couldn’t see me behind the podium if you were sitting in the first few rows in front. The first time I did laundry at my accommodation after moving to London, I spent forever trying to reach for a sock at the very back of the top-rack dryer. I think I just left it there.