Author: Abigail Preiszig
Tri-c’s Bridges into Success in the Sciences is an NIH grant based program for underrepresented students in the sciences. It aims to “to diversify the sciences and work toward the elimination of health disparities by supporting Tri-C students in the pursuit of education and careers in science.” This program allows STEM majors to earn $10 an hour through a paid internship at either Cleveland State or Case Western Reserve University, “bridging” the gap between community college and a local four-year university. This summer, I was lucky enough to begin my participation in this program and I am excited to share my personal experience.
My interest in the program began when I saw posters about it around Tri-C’s campus. I picked up an informational pamphlet, but it was quickly forgotten about in the bottom of my bookbag. What truly sparked my application process was a professor at Tri-C who suggested that I apply. I went home, found the program on Tri-C’s website and printed out the application. The application required a short essay and two faculty signatures along with verifying I met all the eligibility requirements. After applying I was contacted for a short interview with program’s director, Geza Varhegyi Ph.D., co-director, Beth Vaidya Ph.D., and coordinator, Kathleen Cuthrell. They put me in contact with a laboratory at Case Western Reserve University in the department of Genetics and Genome Science. I met with the lab’s PI (principle investigator) at the end of June and began my internship a week later!
My first day at the lab I was very nervous! Being a community college student surrounded by a bunch of Ph.Ds. was intimidating. I just continued to remind myself of three things: everyone must start somewhere, do not be afraid to look stupid, and be patient with yourself and others. I was going to ask a lot of ridiculous questions and make mistakes, but I was learning. Throughout the course of the summer my nerves began to subside as I got to know everyone, I was working with through lab meetings, assisting with projects, and going to lunch together. There were a few other students, one from Tri-C and 4 from various colleges, also interning that summer which helped to make me feel less alone in such unknown territory. I learned basic lab techniques such as how to use pipets, the Western Blot Process, Bradford Assay, and how to detect proteins using bioluminescence. I also got to learn a lot about protein folding and how it may affect disease. It was a lot of work, a lot of reading, and a lot of pushing myself outside my comfort zone, but also a lot of fun. As summer ended, I was required to present what I had learned to the other Bridges students, their family and friends, and the directors of the program.
I continued my internship into the fall, creating my own schedule to accommodate my classes, and eventually got to work on my own project, putting the techniques I had learned over the summer to good use! In November, three other Bridges students and I attended ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students) in California. At the conference, there was a plethora of student research projects to learn about, informational seminars to attend, medical schools to network with, and good food. The conference opened my eyes to the many exciting possibilities of science. I left feeling inspired and very thankful for the opportunities that Tri-C and the Bridges program had instilled for me.
I am very happy to have joined the Bridges program. Not only has being a part of this program taught me how to be a great student, an active learner, and led me to be more confident in myself and my abilities, but it also looks great on college applications, put money in my pocket, works around my school schedule, and allows me to have a network of faculty and students with similar goals here at Tri-C! If you would like to learn more information about this program visit https://www.tri-c.edu/programs/honors/bridges-to-success-in-the-sciences.html or email email@example.com.