Hi everyone, today I wanted to share with you another "week in my life" blog. This week I had a lot of events and a lot of updates that I wanted to share so I hope you enjoy reading!
Monday April 15th - UM Scholars Update
On Monday I started my day out with a Skype call with a physician researcher. As part of my summer research program, I had to reach out to potential physicians and Ph.Ds to see who would be the best bet. There were so many amazing options. I narrowed down my choices and had some Skype calls to get to know them and their research better. It was so exciting to talk to these doctors but also pretty intimidating, I was very nervous but it turned out that I had nothing to be nervous about because they were very humble and friendly! I had a tough decision to make but I decided on......Dr. Travassos!
Dr. Travassos is a Pediatric Infection Specialist and focuses his research on malaria. He focuses on cerebral malaria and other types of severe malaria. He collaborates with a clinic in Mali, and this is the country they focus their research on. Malaria is responsible for half a million deaths each year and the most severe types affect young children.
This summer I will be working with him at the Center of Vaccine Development and Global Health Department at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine. I am working to figure out the details of my research project. I am excited to learn more about this disease and to contribute to the research.
On Monday I also registered for classes for next semester, which is always really stressful! It's stressful because seats run out in certain classes and that is exactly what happened with me for my Cell Biology course. I was hoping to take it with my research mentor but had to end up taking the other professor. Next semester is going to be really busy because I will be taking 20 credits. It's pretty crazy how I have been handling these high credit semesters. I am only taking them to be able to graduate in 4 years and complete my major requirements, minor requirements, pre-med requirements and Gemstone requirements, so that equals a whole lot of classes. But I think I can handle it, seeing how I have handled 19 credits and 4 leadership roles plus research this semester. It's a lot but its worth it. Here is what my schedule looks like (not including meetings)
Tuesday April 16th- HERStory
I was nominated to attend this event called "HERStory" planned by the Adele's Circle of Women. The purpose of this event was to connect young female student leaders to alumnae. The event was super empowering. The event was held in Stamp Student Union and we had some fantastic food and a chance to network with various professionals. The core values of this organization are Leadership, Sisterhood, Diversity, Commitment and Excellence.
We heard a powerful speech from the keynote speaker, Tiffany Wright. Tiffany is impactful black woman, she is a lawyer and is a former Law Clerk for the Supreme Court. She studied psychology at UMD and then went on to study law at Georgetown Law. She told her story of how she got to the career of her dreams after coming from a poor family of addicts. But she explained how she was working so hard out of fear of getting away from her past and is now fearful that somehow she doesn't belong in her position. This is known is as imposter syndrome and it is something that a lot of women and especially women of color go through. I really related to the things she said and appreciated her final lesson which was to not let fear stand in your way.
While at this event I sat at a table with some wonderful professionals in Public Health. One of which started talking and I noticed that Caribbean accent. She was from Trinidad! I am also so happy to met fellow West-Indians. We went around the table and all shared our stories. I was so inspired by my peers who were all young women doing amazing things! I left feeling very empowered!
Wednesday April 17th- Team Dinner
On Wednesday, I had my third biology exam which went pretty well. I also found out that I got 100% on my last math exam which is AMAZING! After classes, I headed out to a dinner with my Gemstone Team. My team was lucky to win a dinner with the director of our program due to our contributions and involvement to the Gemstone GoFund. It was a really great prize to be able to celebrate the accomplishments of our team and the program thus far.
Our team is focused on allergy treatment and we have just started working with the cells in our lab. I have been learning how to culture cells and I really enjoy working with our cells. I love looking under the microscope and seeing these tiny dots but knowing that they contain so much and that they are responsible for everything that is accusing in our body. It's just astonishing to me and I am excited to continue learning more.
A look at our cells under a microscope
Thursday April 18th - UM Scholars and Health Professions Fair
Thursday was another busy day. Our pre-health office hosted a Health Professions fair with over 90 different schools and programs. I was amazed to see how many options there are for students wanting to go into the health field. We often think about medical school, but there are also masters in public health, duel degree programs, research, medical assistants, nursing, dentistry, and more. I went around to some tables and found some admission information for various medical schools. Fairs like these are a great opportunity to gain valuable information.
Next, I attended my first UM Scholars meeting! I was so excited to finally see who else was in this program with me. I was in a room with students I had never met before, except for one student who was also in Gemstone with me. The Director of the Program welcomed us and started bragging about us already, saying how we were the best out of a very competitive group. It felt really great to hear that, yet as I sat there at the table hearing these other students talk about their bioengineering and physics classes and the research they've done, the classes they took that I haven't yet. I started to have those "imposter syndrome" thoughts enter my head. I felt scared that I didn't belong there.
These moments happen and they happen to the best of us. Especially as a woman of color in the STEM field and going into the medical field I am often in places where I am the only one that looks like me and that translates into these thoughts that somehow I don't belong. I'm happy to say these thought didn't last for long, but I still wanted to share because I think it is important that we talk about. I was inspired by the fantastic Tiffany that spoke about it earlier this week and by the key note speaker at my next event, they told their story and it inspires me to always be honest with you all and know that we are not alone in these feelings. Even the most successful people feel this way sometimes but we can't let it stop us from being our best self! I have been learning that I can have fear but I won't let it stop me!
For the rest of the meeting we went over the details of the program such as all the great activities that we will have throughout the summer. We will have weekly seminars from amazing physicians and researchers, we will often get to hear about research that won't be published for another year or two! I am so excited to learn about various topics in medicine in research. By the end of the semester I will write up a paper and present my research. I am so excited to take you all on this journey with me.
Friday April 19th - Networking Dinner
Friday my pre-health organization, Charles R Drew, had their annual Networking dinner. I was there from 4 pm once I got out of classes to help set up and then sign people in and let around 10pm once we were done cleaning up. We had a photographer and so I think I will wait for the pictures and do a separate blog post on this event. But it was amazing, I was able to sit at the front table with the key note speaker which was great. We spoke about our career goals and about the theme of the event which was People, Places, and Passions. I am super proud of my executive board for all the hard work we have done this semester to help minority students have the resources to enter the health professions. More on this event soon.
Overall this week was amazing! My major takeaways were:
1. The Power of Networking - I spoke to a lot of different people this week, from my new research mentor, to various doctors, alumnae, med school representative, the director of the Gemstone program, and more. When networking or just having a conversation, it's important to stay professional while still showing your personality. I would crack jokes, ask them questions, and just be myself! Your network is your net worth!
2. Imposture Syndrome is Real- at both my events this week the keynote speakers spoke about the imposture syndrome and how they have dealt with it in their life. This was very impactful for me because I saw that I wasn't alone with these feelings and I am learning how to deal with them as they pop up.
3. Opportunities are there if you are ready to go for them: This week I reflected on how far I have come. I am ending my my second year of college and have already accomplished a lot! And there are still so many other opportunities that I haven't even thought of yet, I've learned to always be open to them. A lot of the current events or programs I have been exposed to have been due to people that I have built relationships. As I mentioned your network is so important, we can't do this journey alone!
I hope you all enjoyed reading about my week! I am excited to keep you guys updated on my journey. Follow me on my instagram @simply_kye for daily updates.