Hi everyone, I'm officially half-way through my research program! Time is really flying by. Last week, my research program had our "Mid-Summer Research Retreat", an event for us to all come out of our individual labs and listen to presentations then have networking opportunities with various doctors and researchers.
A few weeks ago, my program director sent out an announcement asking people to consider presenting at the retreat. Only one student per program would be selected to present, and they would be selected based on select criteria by a committee.
I thought, why not! It would be good practice for creating presentations and would give me the opportunity to start summarizing my research. So I drafted up a presentation and turned it in.....and I was chosen!
Suddenly, I realized what I gotten myself into, I would actually have to present now. But wow, what a great honor to have been chosen. I had just two days to prepare.
After going over my presentation with my mentor and people in my lab, I felt pretty prepared. Here is the presentation title I came up with:
The next step was to pick out an outfit! I wanted to make sure I was dressed appropriately for the occasion. I decided on a black knee-length skirt and black shirt with a statement blazer. Paired together it really looks like a dress and it fit me really well. I pulled my braids back and did a light makeup look. I felt super confident in this outfit. It's really important to me to always look the part because when to me when I look my best, I feel my best.
Our retreat started with a key-note speaker who was an MD-PhD student. He went to UMD for undergraduate and was in the Gemstone Honors Program, the program that I'm in. He talked about his journey to research and how we ended up doing Global Health research in two countries. After his lecture, it was time for our presentations!
When I started this program I had no idea that I would be presenting my research this early in the summer and to be chosen out of my super talented peers in my program, so I was just super proud about the whole thing.
Surprisingly, I wasn't super nervous. I went up there and went through my slides genuinely excited to share the research I was doing with everyone and to tell people about placental malaria, a disease that 125 million women are at risk for each year. My presentation included my introduction to the disease and to my research project, my research question, hypothesis, methodology, current results and future directions. It was about a six minute presentation, so the hardest part was really fitting it into those few minutes. I was really happy that my mentor took the time out of his busy schedule to watch my presentation and he said I did a great job, that meant a lot to me! This was great practice for all the presentations to come!
Me on my first day versus me on the midway through the program, of course I had to redo the pose!
Once the presentations were done, I was on student panel where the audience could ask us questions about our research and our overall experience. I talked about how much this summer program has meant to me and how much I've learned and grown already. Through this program, I've seen how medicine and research go hand in hand. This program has made me sure that I want to do research in my medical career and be a physician scientist. It was an honor to be on this panel and represent the UM Scholars program.
After the presentations, we had roundtable conversations. I was able to preference who I wanted to sit with. I sat with the Director of the Masters of Public Health program, the Director of the MD/PhD program, and the Program Director of the Admissions Staff. This was another priceless opportunity to leave an impression with the people who would look over these possible applications and learn about the medical school and the programs. I am really considering pursuing a MPH as this would help me to combat health disparities through research. I was also highly considering MD/PhD but after thinking about it more, I'm not sure if this would be the best step for me. But, I still have two more years to decide so just stay tuned and we'll see. To my pre-meds, have you considered any other degrees than the MD? Why or why not, I think its important to consider the value in other degrees/programs and how they could add to our knowledge about medicine and research.
Overall, the mid-summer research retreat was a huge success. I got to present my research, be on a panel, and meet directors of programs I was interested in. It really is just a priceless opportunity. This is just the halfway point and I am excited to see what will come for the next half!
Thanks for reading,