As the end of my time at TRIP quickly approaches, I cannot say how beneficial this program has been for me in so many ways. To begin, when I entered TRIP I knew no one, and I am now able to graduate with a new group of friends that I would have never otherwise met. We all traveled from different schools and had many different interests, but our time in the lab together allowed us all to become so close. Whether we helped each other transfer flies, took goofy pictures, or just talked together while performing our assays, we all became accustomed to our time spent with one another and I truly enjoyed it. Not only my fellow classmates, but our teaching assistants Matt and Nadija became our friends as well. They were always there to answer any questions I had about the lab and were all of the group's questions about what it was like preparing for college. Dr. Leystra and Dr. Purdy were also so incredibly helpful every step of the way. Both were always eager and excited to help walk through all of our independent projects and make us feel so comfortable from the start. In the beginning I did not expect to have met so many new friends and to be so comfortable with a group that was at one point strangers- and I am truly grateful for the people TRIP has allowed me to meet.
TRIP has also presented me with more confidence in myself. In the beginning, I was very nervous because I had no lab experience and was worried I would be behind, but that was not the case. Even when I did have questions, there was always someone there to guide me. TRIP presented me with so many aspects of science that I had not before explored and therefore allowed me to learn so many new things. I became more confident with the tools in the lab, sorting flies, performing my assays, and asking for help. I was even able to become more confident in my presentation skills as Dr. Leystra and Dr. Purdy were the first people to show me the importance of telling the story of my presentation in a way that can be understood and still exciting.
Lastly, I genuinely enjoyed being able to put a research question I had to the test and observe the results. My 21 year old brother has had Crohn’s Disease for years accompanied by a recent habit of vaping. Only a few months ago his doctor pleaded with him to quit vaping as it could be detrimental to his health due to his condition- so that led me to ask, does vape juice have an effect on intestinal health? Although my results were not as compelling as I expected, I loved the routine of performing my assay and looking under the microscope of Saturdays and seeing results. Overall, I learned so much in the weeks I spent with TRIP, met so many new friends, gained confidence in my own capabilities, and furthered my interests in STEM.