Woman in health sciences: Sophia Bokovikova

MVHS Alum ‘22 Sophia Bokovikova shares how she pursues her passion in health sciences both inside and outside the classroom

Aashna Patel

On June 25, 2022, MVHS Alum ’22 Sophia Bokovikova assisted in the delivery process of her brother, Anthony. After talking with the obstetrician about her interests in birthing and human development, Bokovikova got the opportunity to help deliver the placenta of the baby. Throughout this experience, Bokovikova admired the nursing team and anesthesiologist for responding quickly to stressful situations and started seeing their work in a different light. She feels grateful that she got to witness firsthand the various interactions that happen in a hospital and support her mother through this process.

Sophia Bokovikova with her younger brother Anthony. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Bokovikova | Used with permission)

“There are a lot of different misconceptions that people have about the entire pregnancy and birthing process,” Bokovikova said. “[It’s not an] all beautiful process, but in its own ways, the complexities of it do make it really special. To [the doctors], this is something they do every day multiple times a day, [and that experience] really made it seem a lot more approachable as an actual career option, instead of just some sort of mythical crazy thing that someone could do.”

Bokovikova says that her family has influenced and supported her interests in various ways. Although her parents are interested in different fields than her — her mother is a costume designer and her dad is a software engineer — Bokovikova says that biology and psychology concepts transfer over to her parents’ careers and she shares an interest in health and nutrition with her mom. Additionally, she frequently babysits her little brother and finds it interesting to compare how he’s developing to the information she’s learning in class.

Sophia Bokovikova with her younger brother Anthony. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Bokovikova | Used with permission)

Bokovikova currently studies Human Developmental Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. Minoring in Biology with a specialization in healthy aging, Bokovikova hopes to explore her interests in birthing, women’s reproductive health, Alzheimer’s and brain degeneration to “see if there are any ways that [she] can mix [her] different interests to have a fulfilling career” in the future. 

Bokovikova’s grandmother, who lives in Russia and has Alzheimer’s, inspired Bokovikova’s interest in healthy aging. Bokovikova says when she was younger, her grandmother couldn’t recognize her and relied on familial support to take care of herself. To explore her interests in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Bokovikova joined the club Music and Memory at the University of California, San Diego, which “focuses on using music therapy to benefit patients living in elderly care facilities and retirement homes.”

“A lot of [Alzheimer’s patients] don’t frequently get visitors, especially younger visitors — it’s usually just them and their caretakers or anyone that works there,” Bokovikova said. “First of all, just having human interaction is very pleasant to begin with. And then the fact that we’re playing music, even if it’s a song that’s unfamiliar to them, the positive environment tends to alleviate a lot of anxieties and any stress they might have. And then also if they do like this song, or if they even recognize it in any way, [it] is really cute to just see them tapping their feet along with you — you can see it in their faces, how it changes their mood.”

Sophia Bokovikova with members of the Music and Memory organization at the University of California, San Diego. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Bokovikova | Used with permission)

In addition to healthy aging and human development, Bokovikova is interested in women’s reproductive health. Witnessing how girls are uneducated on menstruation, hormonal cycles, puberty, pregnancy and how diseases like Alzheimer’s affect women at a higher rate, Bokovikova became inspired to have more conversations on taboo topics related to women, with the hope of making this information more accessible. Bokovikova says that although being interested in women’s health follows gender stereotypes, women shouldn’t be discouraged to study women’s health as it is still an important field that impacts everyone. 

“I think that there are many preconceived expectations as to what a woman should be interested in,” Bokovikova said. “If you fall within those interests, don’t necessarily stay away from it if that’s truly what you’re passionate about, just because you feel that some people think that’s what you’re meant to do. On the other end of that, if you are interested in something that completely deviates from the norm, just know that your interests do not have to necessarily align with whatever identity that people try to write out for you. I think that we’re at a point in time where we can be really flexible with our interests, and figure out what you like to do that makes you happy, and try to contribute to the world in any way that you can.”