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Katrina Tao ready to improve lives through biomedical engineering.

Written by
Sabina Haskell

January 7, 2021


Katrina Tao

For Katrina Tao, it's all a waiting game the next few weeks. The current senior at Brattleboro  Union High School is hoping letters of acceptance will start rolling in soon.  
“I’m not going to lie; waiting to hear back is nerve-wracking,” she admits. 
Katrina has applied to more than 12 colleges with VSAC’s help over the past few months. The dream? To study mechanical or biomedical engineering, preferably at the University of Michigan. 
When asked why she leans toward that program, Katrina replied, “That's where my brother went.” 
Katrina's brother’s success using the Talent Search program has been a huge source of strength for her. At a young age, she saw the benefits her brother gained from the program. His experience strengthened her belief that she could make college a reality.

Katrina joined Talent Search in sixth grade when VSAC held an information session in her class about the program.

“I remember feeling that it was really early to even start thinking about colleges, but I knew my brother had been a part of Talent Search, so I figured why not give it a try?” That decision paid off.

Picking a career path was not straightforward for Katrina, however.

“At the beginning of high school, I was actually looking into a career as a doctor,” she says. “I took a biomedical course focused on printable biomedical science. And then I took an anatomy and physiology course, and I didn't enjoy it. So, I realized that [being a doctor] wasn't the right thing for me to do. That's how I made the decision to change career paths to biomedical engineering,” she explained. 
VSAC helped identify programs that could channel Katrina’s interest in biomedical engineering. Central to her journey was gaining awareness of financial aid opportunities through Talent Search resources. 
Katrina stressed the importance of financial aid to her future and the role VSAC has played in making sure she applies for every opportunity.

“These past few months, I've really been relying on advice from VSAC on how to fill out the FAFSA and apply for VSAC grants,” she says. 
For Katrina, her counselor's support and the opportunities provided by Talent Search since middle school have built up to this moment. She is hyper-focused on helping people through medical engineering,

“My dream is to be a part of creating medical inventions that improve people's lives,” she noted.  

When asked if she had anything else to share with potential Talent Search students, Katrina said, “I really encourage students who are unsure of their future to use this program like I did,” Katrina says. “It gave me great guidance.”

VSAC Talent Search is a federally funded TRIO program that serves middle school and high school students in their pursuit of career and college planning or training after high school. More than 363,300 students are enrolled in 466 Talent Search Trio programs across the US.

Since 1969, VSAC Talent Search has been providing career and college planning services to students at 40 Vermont schools who meet income guidelines and have an interest in pursuing education or training beyond high school.

VSAC Talent Search offers students:

  • Counseling support for career and college planning
  • Financial aid assistance and academic support
  • Advising on high school courses

We also offer:

  • Parent events
  • College visits
  • Summer enrichment programs

If you are a student—or the parent of a student—interested in this program, talk to your school counselor.

Need help with pursuing your career goals and education needs? VSAC is here to help you. Serving our community is at the heart of all we do. During this ever-changing time, we remain available and committed to help you navigate all your career and education needs.

For information on college and career planning and help with financial aid, go to and check out our online workshops and events. You can also give us a call at 800-642-3177, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and online at Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay in touch. We’re here for you.