Chapter 1: Discovering my Niche
pH. I will probably never think of this term the same again. And the quantum life will never be in ground state again.
Every classroom that I’ve entered so far has taught me the skills of cramming, memorizing, and eventually forgetting that knowledge to move on to the next. As much as that irritated me, I had no choice but to obey and move on because I was letting the potential of failure create a bubble of fear. Setting my foot into the world of stem cells popped the bubble that I wouldn’t dare touch. Ever.
Entering a bunny suit every day is like donning responsibilities; an armor so strong that I feel the depth of change in myself and in my ability to induce the same in this world. What is more phenomenal is the passion of the mentors that I’m constantly surrounded with. Each and every person that I seek, gives me an abundance of joy that I always craved while learning. There is never a “I cannot say for sure” answer. One thought leads into another and all of this weaves-very intricately- the person that I’m maturing into. In short, you can call my mentors the growth factors in cytokines and fetal bovine serum and me, the cell.
Chapter 2: Learning to Learn
Never in my life before have I understood better the importance of precision in both science and language. When trying to explain my thought process, I realized just how flawed it is but that is the beauty of failing at first. I still do not understand subject matters at the depth that my mentors do, but their commitment to help me achieve a deep level of understanding drives me to actualize the same.
Chapter 3: Rearing my Passion
Honestly, if one does not get awestruck by the level of beauty that science has, then I do not know what else works. From the doing to the viewing of your results, everything is magical. Because if cells that are stained with trypan blue do not resemble Earth, then I’m sorry to say, your imagination is limited. (Just kidding!)
When I was handed the task to transfect cells, I was more than excited and nervous at the same time. It was like guarding a baby, the delicateness with which I approached my work. One mistake had the possibility to result in contamination which would be a shame to my concentration. Isolating my attention solely to the task at hand, I carefully pipetted three DNA molecules and a transfection reagent into the cell layer factory from which I would acquire the supernatant filled with vector particles. It left me astounded to think that the world of tomorrow will rely upon the laboratory techniques that I learned so that we can manufacture gene delivery vehicles to treat diseases where there’s a lack of essential genes in the genome of a person. It leaves me so humbled and excited to have the chance to be a part of something so special right now, and even in the future. Something so special as to give life to someone who means a world to their family.
Chapter 4: Cradle of Bliss
It is so heartfelt to realize that the internships that students like myself and my peers are being granted, is all to advance the future of stem cells and give us the platform where we can share our experiences and voices.
During this journey, I received the chance to meet amazingly successful people including Dr. Belafsky, Dr. Kupperman, Dr. Wheelock, Dr. Nolta and Dr. Bauer, who treated all of the students with so much love and respect that I doubt any of us would claim to deserve. They taught us, gave advice, and most importantly, deemed us deserving enough to be nurtured with the experiences they have faced.
Leaving this experience behind is the hardest thing that I will ever be asked to do, but nonetheless, I feel blessed to behold this in the true chapters of my life.
~ Shaniya Singh