So the start of the new academic year has put a cramp on our extracurricular activities, like updating this blog. We still have a dedicated group of young scientists working away on a number of projects, but our primary responsibilities drastically limit the size of the group. But in the interim, we have our first contribution from a former student. She was part of our first summer team, way back in 2014, and is currently a Master’s candidate in the department of Tropical Medicine at UH-Manoa (and she just recently passed her qualifying exam!).
The start of it all …
I was just like many other people in their late teens, early 20’s — an undergraduate, lost, afraid, and unable to find a purpose in anything I was doing. That was until I joined the INBRE undergraduate research program at Leeward Community College, all because I thought it was a good idea to get experience to put on my resume for med school. Little did I know that there was so much more that I would take away from it than just that. I gained lifelong friendships (my lab mates and mentors) and essential skills that I still apply to my work till this day (networking, presenting to professionals and general public, and molecular lab techniques). I still keep in contact with everyone I worked with, and although we have gone our separate ways (career and school-wise) I still see that all of us still apply all that we learned to our everyday lives. Going through this summer program helped me gain confidence in presenting my research, and being able to ask questions as to why we do things instead of just “doing it because we had to.” If I could describe what I took away from this program in one word, it would be… “GROWTH.”
Dr. Neupane, Dr. MacDonald, Dr. Kae, Dr. Jha, and Dr. Ashburn were all incredible mentors. Till this day, after going through many other research projects and programs, they were the best mentors I’ve ever had. They were all mindful of where we started, how we progressed through the summer research program, and through all of that, pushed us to achieve such great things. They all saw potential in every one of us, and because of that, helped us to go on to win awards for our research, and move onto higher learning at other institutions.
This whole experience was very enriching, and is not something that should be overlooked. This opportunity is what launched my life forward from a dead stop. I grew from being a lost undergrad, to now a TA teaching undergraduate Biology labs, working in a successful research lab, and continuing my graduate degree as a master’s candidate. It was all thanks to my experiences that opened up so many opportunities for me. I’ve come a long way since that time, and I have to thank the undergraduate research program for being the catalyst to start my academic and life journey.