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My role in the research lab was to study the mechanism and function of the two hallmarks, Amyloid-beta and Tau protein, of Alzheimer’s disease. I performed basic laboratory procedures and often worked independently to develop our experiments. Investing three years in working on important projects and receiving two publications helped me understand the tremendous amount of time required to perform valuable research. Experience Summary (1423; over the character limit): My interest in learning more about medical research led me to Dr. David Kang. The focus of Dr. Kang’s laboratory, and the program that he led, was to study the underlying mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. As a member of his research team, I learned and employed various biochemical, molecular, advanced imaging, and animal modeling techniques to gain a thorough understanding pathological brain function.
Analysis of the data and development of new experiments drove my dedication. Comparing neuronal structure and function under different cellular conditions, drug treatments, and behavioral responses in various animal models gave me an opportunity to apply science to improving clinical outcomes. The goal of moving research forward for human benefits drove my work as I investigated the mechanisms of Amyloid-beta and Tau protein generation and their effects on neurotoxicity. I worked diligently in conducting experiments that targeted crucial aspects of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease and was honored to have my findings published on two separate occasions. My experience working on the published articles,“Enhanced tau pathology via RanBP9 and Hsp90/Hsc70 chaperone complexes” and “Loss of function CHCHD10 mutations in cytoplasmic TDP-43 accumulation and synaptic integrity,” provided a behind-the-scenes understanding of medicine and fueled my desire to deliver care as a physician.
As a tutor, I worked with many underserved children, helping them complete their homework and understand concepts. I tutored the same child over the course of the year for three hours per week. Not only did I learn about the academic challenges these children faced, but I also understood the hurdles they had to overcome outside the classroom. Many didn’t speak English or spoke limited English and therefore their education helped their entire families.
Michelle’s family immigrated to the US from Colombia. Her mother offered house-cleaning services in their neighborhood and was the sole breadwinner of the family. When I first began working with Michelle, she was reluctant to speak English since she spoke only Spanish at home. Michelle had to simultaneously master oral and written English while also devoting time to other subjects. We painstakingly completed her grammar exercises, read Dr. Seuss, and practiced writing her letters. Initially she was unable to scribble the letters in her name, but only eight months later, she had become one of the best readers in her class.
I was introduced to Michelle at a service-learning forum organized by the Walker Middle School in Tampa, Florida. I mentored groups of two to five students weekly; we reviewed academic concepts and discussed a variety of social issues they faced. Being an immigrant myself, I was able to connect with these young adolescents at a deeper level and mentored them by helping them get through the challenges immigrants face. I discovered that to help others learn and understand, I must be knowledgeable about their home environment and personal challenges. Further, patiently sitting with Michelle as she sounded out words and congratulating her on her success made me realize the importance and satisfaction of motivating others to succeed.
My involvement at the Red Crescent Clinic, a free medical care facility located in the ISTABA mosque of Tampa, was especially meaningful. My responsibilities included scheduling patient visits, taking vital signs, and completing patient charts. I also shadowed many physicians, assisting with simple tasks such as cleaning rooms or transporting patients.
Experience Summary: While working at the clinic I met Shahida, a middle aged, friendly woman, who had suffered from uncontrolled diabetes for many years. Due to this illness, a digit on her right foot had been amputated, and she was slowly losing her vision. Her eyes teared as she discussed her fear of not being able to attend her granddaughter’s graduation. I spoke with the physician about Shahida’s condition and asked why her diabetes was poorly controlled. He explained that Shahida only recently qualified for Medicaid and was never able to afford private insurance, so she had not received the care she needed. This experience helped me understand how people suffer when they lack access of care. By shadowing physicians and attending resident meetings for more than 40 hours per week, in nearly every medical specialty, I learned about the reality of a physician’s life. Witnessing how diseases can affect people of all races, ages, and backgrounds and seeing the changes in the health of patients I encountered frequently made me aware of the bleak realities of illness. This experience increased my respect for individuals in need as well as my desire to serve them.
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