Opened Doors of Opportunity

By Kierra Chin
BGE Strategic Initiatives & Marketing

The sounds of conversation and laughter spilled out of Bulldog Tavern on October 3rd, as a group of Biomedical Graduate Education (BGE) students, faculty, and staff gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of its newest scholarship recipients.

The welcome dinner was called to a start as Barbara Bayer, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for Biomedical Graduate Education, gave the students two pieces of advice. “The first thing you have to do is pay attention to your studies,” Bayer cautions. “The second thing you need to do is take every opportunity to branch out and meet people. You are shoulder to shoulder with people who are going to be important to you.”

Monuments and Merit

Andrew Uhlman explains his love for DC comes from an understanding that the city is a cultural hub filled with diversity, “allowing a fusion between science and policy.” Uhlman’s work within the National Institutes of Health gave him a keen perspective of just that. “DC has a lot of opportunities for biomedical research at many federal agencies.”

Michael Corrado, drawn to DC when he was still in high school, moved to the area to pursue his passions in science as he completed his undergraduate work and now his master’s degree. “Being in DC forces you to open your mind to see how policy affects programs.”

Bringing More to STEM

The Hoyas for Science Scholarship rewards applicants whose background or experience allows them to uniquely contribute to the diversity of the BGE community.

Yuting Pan, a master’s candidate in Integrative Neuroscience, recognizes gender discrepancies within the field. “Once I got into higher level classes in undergrad such as genetics and microbiology, there were not a lot of Asians or women in the classes at all,” Pan says. “In the lab, there are even less. That had a big impact on me.”

The only recipient of both the DMV Hoyas Biomedical and Hoyas for Science Scholarship, Simone Stanley, a master’s candidate in Biotechnology, welcomes the challenges she faces as a minority.

“I have this technical understanding, but I also have this cultural understanding,” says Stanley. “The idea is to put the two together to accomplish something in a bigger scope.” She talks about her research in historical trends for African American women in STEM and personalized medicine—a new passion she holds thanks to the startup she works with when she is not in class.

“Diversity is a very healthy environment,” says Corrado. “It exposes all of us to new ideas and new ways of doing things.”

Exploration Starts Here

Each of the scholars came into the program with different dreams. Whether they hope to change the world, work in the District, get a Ph.D., or start a company, their time within BGE will provide them with valuable experiences that will prepare them for the opportunities that lie ahead.

“I am learning the very tangible skills necessary to build a future that I have in mind,” Stanley says as she echoes the thoughts of her peers. “I started this program, talked to other students, professors, and alumni, and in doing so, have been provided a playbook to achieve the ideas that have been hovering around—realizing that they are a possibility.”