After graduating from Wilson in 2003 as a Valedictorian, Megan O'Connor headed off to the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a B.A. in Integrative Biology with a minor in Slavic Languages and Literature. During her time at Berkeley she was a coxswain for the Cal women’s rowing team, where she led the junior varsity eight to two 2nd place victories at NCAAs (2006, 2007). Megan's team also won three Pac-10 teams rowing championships (2004-2006) and two NCAA team championships (2005, 2006).

After graduation from Berkeley, Megan worked for three years as a Research Assistant at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) at Oregon Health Science University (OHSU). Under the mentorship of Dr. Scott Wong, she did research looking at the effects of different viral infections on immunodeficient non-human primates.

Megan is currently going into her 4th year as a Ph.D. student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in the Microbiology/Immunology department. Working with Dr. William Green, her work is focusing on the role of innate immune mechanisms contributing to immunodeficiency in mice. Thus far at Dartmouth, she has published two manuscripts and has a third one in the works. Megan tells us that outside of school she has taken up running, and has participated in two half marathons in the past year.

Thinking about influential teachers at Wilson, she says, "One of my favorite teachers at Wilson was Mr. Penk (Chemistry). Mr. Penk had such a passion for teaching and making science fun. I felt that I could always go to him for advice, both inside and outside of the classroom, on scientific and personal matters. He helped me get an internship with ASE (Apprenticeship in Science and Engineering), which gave me my first experience working in a research lab at OHSU. It was this experience which made me realize what I was meant to do with my life. If it wasn’t for Mr. Penk’s support and mentorship, I do not know whether I would have found my true passion."

She also has some advice for current Wilson students. "Although at times high school can feel like the end all, it is important to know that there is so much potential for growth and learning after you graduate. Stay focused on what your goals are, but always remember to have fun, that is what high school is all about."