Final Week Reflections

As I finish my internship, I believe I have largely met my defined academic, career and personal goals I established before beginning my internship. My academic goal was to build upon the knowledge from the biology classes I have taken, as well as to expand that knowledge to better assist me in future classes. These goals were met as all my research either built on my basic biology knowledge, such as understanding how cellular respiration works and how DNA is replicated, or new lab techniques and concepts. These new techniques include ELISA and cell culture preparation, which will be useful when I take biology lab in the fall. More so, I was introduced to many neuroscience concepts, such as the role of PPAR agonist receptors and the importance of insulin in the brain, which I will be able to apply to my neuroscience courses.

Here is a link to an interesting article about the correlation between insulin resistance and AD, concepts on which my project focused, written by my PI.

My career goal was to gain research experience and decide whether research and neuroscience are areas I am interested in pursuing. This internship provided me with valuable research experience that will make me a far more competitive candidate when applying to future research labs. Additionally, the experience of working in in a lab made me realize that while I find research interesting and would like to continue it throughout my undergraduate education, I don’t think I would like to pursue a career solely involving wet lab research. However, this experience has also helped solidify my choice in majoring in neuroscience, as it has given me further understanding of how uncharted the brain remains and how vital an understanding of this organ is to the future of society and medicine.

My personal goal at the start of my internship was to challenge myself to fully understand all concepts of my research. I feel as though I have met this goal through asking questions and feeling comfortable in being wrong in my understanding, giving me a better grasp of my research through my mistakes.

Overall, as a result of this internship I feel capable of taking on and successfully completing challenging projects. Although my research project appeared daunting and confusing at the beginning of the summer, by working through the project slowly and asking questions when confused, I ended my project with a newfound confidence in my abilities and understanding.

Here is a picture of me at the lab:

I would advise a student interested in this internship to come with an open mind and be prepared to give his or her full efforts. Additionally, this lab prefers to reteach techniques regardless of a student’s previous knowledge, so it is important not to become frustrated or discouraged by this. It is also essential to stay very organized and have full command over your topic, and quality over quantity is key.

I would advise a student interested in an internship at the Brown University Liver Research Center to come into the internship with an open mind and be prepared to give their full efforts. By personally doing so, I learned far more than I expected to and produced results, such as the raw data from the experiment, my presentation for the lab, and a manuscript of the experiment, which I wouldn’t have expected coming into this experience. Here is the link to the lab’s website:

I would advise a student interested in this field to definitely try a hands-on experience, such as working in a lab, in order to interact with the field of study in a new light that differs from the textbook experience. This allows for a new perspective and better understanding of the topic, as well as more comprehensive look into whether you are truly interested in the field.

Looking back at my internship, I am most proud of my presentation at the lab and the manuscript I wrote about my experiment. I often do not present, and when I do, the presentations are often much shorter than the fifteen-minutes I was allotted. Additionally, this presentation was on a challenging and complex topic that required me to gain a comprehensive understanding of in order to make it a successful talk. Fortunately, applying the necessary time and effort allowed my presentation to run very smoothly and I felt I was successful in conveying all aspects of the experiment to my audience. I am also very proud of the manuscript I wrote on the experiment. This required a very extensive understanding of the topic background, results, and experimental significant, and required a style of scientific writing that I had never attempted before. However, I produced an end product that was something I didn’t think achievable before coming into this experience.

Dustine Reich ’20

 

Life Number 2: Starting Fresh in the United States

The Refugee Services of Texas (RST) serves refugees, asylees, individuals with Special Immigrant Visas, Cuban-Haitian entrants, Central American minors, survivors of human trafficking, and other vulnerable populations. RST is a social-service agency dedicated to providing assistance to refugees and other displaced persons. A list of the different services that the Houston office offers can be found here. Through its many services, it aims to build a welcoming environment for these underserved and vulnerable populations. The office of the agency is located on the fifth of six total floors of a square building surrounded by other office buildings and apartment complexes. Upon entrance, one may feel that he or she is in a clinic. Chairs are lined up against the wall and against each other in the middle. Toys for the children are stacked in the corner.

Upon my entrance into the office space on my first day, I was greeted by a large number of employees and interns. I felt extremely welcomed and happy to have landed this internship opportunity with RST. It’s not the beauty and aesthetics of the office that makes this agency special, it’s the work that impresses me and pushes me to do all that I can do to better the lives of the clients and the employees here. My work, which may evolve over time, mainly focuses on promoting oral health. My goal is to inform all clients of the importance of keeping good oral hygiene. I will be creating a curriculum for the volunteers to use while they welcome and orient the clients.

Although each client has Medicaid, clients of ages 20 and younger are only eligible to receive dental benefits. Thus, clients of over the age of 20 will have to pay out of pocket, depending on income. More information about this policy can be found at this website. The agency hopes that each client will end up having a dentist to serve their oral health care needs. This will allow for the clients to receive great health care that is vital and of much importance.

My work will be part of the cultural orientation given within the guaranteed 90 days of service that the agency provides for its clients. As of now, the agency informs all clients of health care opportunities and information, but does not do so for dental care. I am happy to help start this new program and service for the agency. I believe that my work will further help make the clients comfortable in their new lives as residents of the United States.

The agency provides services to all ages, including newborns and infants. There is no discrimination!

By summer’s end, I hope to learn about the different policies that govern how refugees, asylees, individuals with Special Immigrant Visas, Cuban-Haitian entrants, Central American minors, survivors of human trafficking, and other vulnerable populations arrive to the United States. As a child of parents who were once refugees, I want to learn more and connect with what it means to be a refugee, as well as the hardships that must be tackled. I hope to learn the many different ways that individuals can become settled into the States, and how present-day government policies affect the lives of these vulnerable populations. I also hope to become more comfortable with interacting with people of different backgrounds and traditions. The employees working in the office, a total of nearly 20, speak a total number of 30 languages. Thus, I am positive that by the end of my internship, I will be able to learn more about different cultures and customs.

At ETE Camp We Form Leaders!

 

Many schools in Haiti are limited in providing a good quality education and there are few extracurricular activities for students to participate in, if any.  To combat these issues ETE (Empowering Through Education) Camp was born, an organization that gives underprivileged students in Hinche, Haiti the opportunity to have access to a quality curriculum education which they do not have access to in their regular schools. Students in this program are exposed to leadership, engineering, English and math classes which are designed to strengthen their academic skills, build their confidence and teach them to become leaders in their community. Furthermore, the program serves two meals per day to approximately 60 participants and holds afternoon programming that includes icebreaker activities, soccer, and much-more.

ETE Camp was founded in 2009, by Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program (MKTYP) and Brandeis Alumna Shaina Gilbert as director, five other Brandeis students, and Shaina’s father, Boston Public Schools teacher, Garry Gilbert. ETE Camp has already served 200+ youth participants and provided summer work opportunities to adults in Haiti and it’s where I’ll spend my summer WOW placement.

Last year I had the privilege to work with these students and we were able to bond. I am so excited to see my students from last year again and look forward to meeting the new students.

WHAT IS IT THAT I DO? As a teacher with ETE camp, I will teach three classes on effective leadership practices a day. I adapted and refined a curriculum for this program. I will also help lead afternoon activities including debriefing morning classes with the students and leading games for community building. Afterward, I will attend the staff meetings and debrief the day and discuss what we can do as a staff to improve for the next day.

Also, this is my second year at camp and I intend to start a poetry competition for the students. The purpose of the competition will be to support graduates of ETE camp who may not have opportunity to continue showcasing their poetry talent.  From my previous experience with ETE Camp, one of the organization’s missions is to keep improving for its students and to form leaders in the community that will lead in the future.  I truly believe that by teaching a subject like leadership, I can show that a leader can also be a community influencer.  Now that I am done preparing the curriculum, I cannot wait to start working with the ETE Camp students in Hinche, Haiti.

END OF THE SUMMER GOAL: By the of the summer, I aim to create a ripple effect on the current ETE Camp students and the alumni; where they will continue to think critically and engage in conversation about how they can contribute to their community as leaders. I hope to create a book for ETE Camp with a combination of alumni stories and poems. I  also hope to discover new ways in which ETE Camp could be improved for next year. Working at ETE Camp is one of my favorite ways to spend the summer. I know how grateful and excited the students in the Hinche community will be to have us working with them again this year and I want them to know that I believe in them.