What was your first involvement with the Honors College, and what activities/service projects/volunteer work did you take part in while being a part of the Honors College? How did those experiences enrich your experience with the College?
My first experience with the Honors College was during the first year courses that were required of all Honors College students. From then, I searched for various organizations that volunteered around Detroit. This is how I was able to get involved with various Detroit organizations like Greening of Detroit, Gleaner’s Food Bank, and PBJ Outreach. After that I was involved in a tutoring program at Harm’s Elementary, an elementary school in Detroit, which was an incredible experience. These opportunities made my time at Wayne State much more satisfying because I was able to get outside of the classroom and into the community. I wouldn’t have been able to have such easy access to volunteer opportunities without the Honors College.
What kind of research did you perform as an undergrad student?
I worked in two different labs throughout my time at Wayne State. The first was under Dr. Larry Matherly at Karmanos Cancer Institute. This research focused on the anti-cancer agent, Methotrexate. I worked on various projects that revolved around this compound and the ways in which tumor cells take it up. The second lab was in Wayne State’s Chemistry department under Dr. Mary Kay Pflum. Here, my project focused on synthesis of various compounds that are vital in cell signaling pathways of many types of cells including tumor cells.
You are currently in your second year of Medical School at Wayne State University. Why did you choose WSU’s Medical School?
I chose WSU Medical School primarily for the city of Detroit. I could think of no better to gain the experiences every great physician needs than Detroit. Since becoming a student here, I’ve volunteered throughout many different free clinics, I’ve shadowed physicians throughout the various hospitals, and I’ve had the opportunity to travel abroad to Haiti with my fellow students to provide free healthcare to those without access to much care at all.
You visited Haiti in your first year of Medical School at Wayne State University. Was this the first time you visited Haiti? What was the clinical experience like, how did it impact you, and how can you take what you learned from your Haiti experiences and apply it as a service to the surrounding Detroit communities?
This was my first time visiting Haiti. It was an incredible experience that was by far the best time of my first year in medical school. It was an extremely humbling experience to say the least. The people that we saw had very little, and many traveled several hours to the town or Morne L’Hopital where our clinic was set up. I learned so much about confidently interviewing patients, how a clinic is run from taking vitals to presenting the different cases to the physicians that traveled with us. Much of what we saw in Haiti is analogous to Detroit. There are countless citizens throughout Detroit that have very little access of healthcare and are in need of some sort of medical attention. What I learned in Haiti is that patient’s regardless of where they are in the world, require at the very least to have their problems heard. Even if nothing could be done for a patient in Haiti due to our own constraints, the people were still unbelievably grateful to gain some sort of insight into what was going on with their own bodies. I hope that as I progress through my career as a physician that I am able to provide all patients with this service.
The research project you worked on “Identification and Functional Impact of Homo-oligomers of the Human Proton-coupled Folate Transporter was published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry. What research did you perform and how do you feel about your work being published? Is this the first time you were published?
This project was one of the few projects I was working on while in Dr. Matherly’s lab. My role in this research primarily involved the synthesis of various DNA plasmids that were then inserted in bacteria, the bacteria were cultured, the DNA was extracted, inserted into a cancer cell line, and the protein that was carried on the DNA was then able to be expressed in the cell. These cells were then utilized in various experiments elucidating the function of the Proton-coupled Folate Transporter, an important component of allowing anticancer drugs to enter tumor cells. It was unbelievably rewarding to have my work published in a journal for the first time. I had gone into the summer with the mindset of putting everything I had into my work, and it was very satisfying to be published.
What kind of advice would you give currents Honors College students and incoming freshmen?
There are so many opportunities at Wayne State that I feel people don’t fully realize going into the Honors College. I would simply encourage those entering to not just wait for things to drop into their lap because it’s more likely that nothing will. It’s important to talk to your professors, look up their profiles online, and reach out to them. It can only make your experience at Wayne State that much more rewarding.