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The Express Train

The Express Train

Ryan HassanRyan Hassan, who’s graduating this month with a degree in physics, came to the College of Natural Sciences with a simple plan.  He wanted to finish quickly, he wanted to set himself up to get into medical school, and he wanted to enjoy college. On all counts, he’s succeeded. He earned his degree in a grand total of five semesters. His medical school applications, which he just sent out, have the advantage of featuring one of the highest GPAs in the College of Natural Sciences. And he had some fun along the way.

I sat down with Ryan, a native of Irving, Texas, to talk about his brief but rich experience in Austin.

Why did you take 2 ½ years to finish college, even though you had enough AP credits to finish in two years, and could have done it faster if you’d taken classes over the summer?


I didn’t want to rush things.

Why did you choose physics as your major? Why not biology?

For one thing, it’s cool. Consider relativity, which is my favorite concept in physics. It tells us that the universe is so different from how we imagine it. We think of time, for instance, as fixed, but it’s not. It’s relative. It turns out that if we travel away from the planet at something close to light speed, for instance, by the time we return a lot more time will have passed for the people on earth than for us. That’s fascinating.

But you want to be a doctor, yes?

Yeah. Right now I think I’d like to be either a neurosurgeon or a psychiatrist. I’m fascinated by the brain.

Do you have a favorite medical TV show?

I love House. That’s my favorite. My dad said he wants me to be like the main character, House, only with better bedside manner. I try to explain to him that it’s not possible. House brings people back from the dead every other week.

Obviously you spent a lot of time studying, but can you can you tell me about one of your best nights in college that didn’t involve studying?

During the Democratic party primaries, Obama came to Austin to speak, and I went to the rally with a friend. I was a big Obama supporter, so that was part of the excitement, but it wasn’t just that. There was just an amazing energy. Later that night, I went to the movies with some friends, and one of them almost got into a fight with a Longhorn football player. It was a bit upsetting at the time, but also kind of funny.

What kind of music kept you going?

I like modern country, like the Eli Young Band, Rascall Flatts, Kenny Chesney. Tim McGraw is good. I even like Taylor Swift, though I don’t say so publicly.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Austin?

I like the Flying Falafel, on Guadalupe. They have an interesting mix of middle eastern food and cajun food. I also just like to go there for the atmosphere. I go there all the time, and one time that I went, I was with some friends and for some reason did a silly dance. One of the owners saw me, and now every time I go I dance my way in and out of the restaurant. I’m not a great dancer, but I enjoy it.

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Saturday, 23 September 2017

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