What first interested you about STEM?

I’ve always been interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), but I really got into science and biology when I took Advanced Placement Biology. My teacher worked hard to incorporate real-life examples of the processes we were studying into the course. I credit him with helping me identify my passion for biology which, in turn, solidified my interest to pursue a career in medicine one day.

What’s your favorite part about science?

I love science because it fascinates me to learn about the inner workings of things: why and how they occur. Science has a way of demonstrating the interconnectivity of seemingly unrelated things. Biology is my favorite subject, particularly learning about human systems. The body is so impressive in its ability to interact with its environment. I want to continue to study in this field with a focus on the immune system.

What attracted you to in the Army Education Outreach Program? 

I was searching for a summer internship near me and found the High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP) available in a lab at The University of Texas at Austin. It was a paid research program in the department of integrative biology. Thought I didn’t have any experience in integrative biology, I was interested to learn more about it. Through HSAP, I could work on a college campus and complete an experiment that actually interested me and was related to my future field of study. Add to that the fact that I was considering attending UT Austin after graduation, and I was sold.

What was the most exciting moment for you in this STEM program? 

The lab community was so friendly and welcoming. I worked under a professor and a graduate student, and they (as well as the rest of the lab staff) went above and beyond to make sure I felt comfortable with them and the experiments I was performing there. After about a month at the lab, they took me out for lunch to talk about my progress, and I gained some valuable insight into the undergraduate experience in relation to research. They’ve even opened up their lab to me during the school year, and I still work there twice a week as I complete my senior year. It was, and is, so exciting to have access to people interested in the same things I am, but who have already accomplished everything that I hope to accomplish, myself, in the future.

How has this program affected your future plans? 

I spent the summer learning about the pollination patterns of native bees, which introduced me to a field completely different from what we learn about in high school biology classes. Learning something new made me even more confident that I want to study in biology in the future.

What advice do you have for teens interested in STEM? 

Don’t be afraid to reach for things outside your comfort zone. You never know what you may end up enjoying or how much you can really accomplish until you try.