Meet the Class of ‘24’s Jack Engel

Jack Engel

A percussionist from the age of nine, Jack Engel came to UVA planning to major in biochemistry in preparation for medical school, but not long after arriving on Grounds, he realized he still needed to play music and began taking lessons through the Department of Music.

This spring, Engel will receive two degrees: a bachelor’s in chemistry with a specialization in biochemistry and a bachelor’s in music with a performance concentration.

“I didn’t realize how important music was to me until I didn’t have it in my life,” Engel said.  “It’s been a huge blessing to me that I’ve been able to do both things.”

This spring, he’ll begin applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs for the 2025 academic year, but until then, he plans to stay in Charlottesville to continue working as a researcher in cancer genomics and vaccine development at UVA.

His original plan was to pursue a career as a doctor, but his studies have led him to realize something a lot more ambitious: a career as both a physician and a researcher.

“I realized that I didn’t just want to get an MD – not that it isn’t an incredible feat to be able to do that – but I love to learn,” Engel said.  “It will be a long process, but I’m looking forward to it.”

He’s especially interested in oncology, but he’s also interested in the intersection between cancer and genetics and feels the dual role of doctor and researcher will give him a chance to go deeper in both the theory and application of medicine.

Growing up in Salt Lake City and coming to UVA during the pandemic proved to be a culture shock, Engel admits, but one of his few friends that first year was his resident advisor, so he decided to become an RA himself, which he did his second and third years.  The experience gave him an opportunity to experience first year through the residents in his dorm, and this year he’s a senior resident in the Gibbons first-year dorm, working to give the newest cohort of first years the best experience possible.

His pursuit of service to others has also taken him to Madison House, UVA’s independent volunteer center for students, where he has been able to teach music to children in the community.  In his second year, he became a program director, leading a youth music program called the Music Resource Center, and by his third year he was head program director involved in after school volunteering for UVA students. This year, Engel and his team manage all Education and Youth volunteering at Madison House.

With the additional coursework for two majors, his research, his work in Housing, his volunteer work with Madison House, his schedule was often full, but his passion for all of it kept him moving forward.


Read more about the A&S Class of '24