Meet #CrusaderIntern Meghan Donahue ’21

Name: Meghan G. Donahue

Class Year: 2021

Position & Company: Yale School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit (Intern, Research Assistant)

1. Tell us about where you interned over the summer and the kind of work you are doing.

This summer, I interned at the Yale School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit where I was trained to function as a full time Research Assistant, and support the functioning of multiple Alzheimer’s clinical drug trials. I had the opportunity to interact with patients presenting a wide array of cognitive abilities on a daily basis as I took their vital signs, performed EKGs, drew their blood, and administered some cognitive testing. I became adept at retrieving the major medical history of potential trial participants, and collaborated with a panel of medical professionals as they assessed these factors and other clinical measures leading to a diagnosis.

2. Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship

As a psychology major with a health professions career track, I frequently integrated my academic learning into my day to day responsibilities.  One specific example of how I applied my classroom learning to my internship focused on the techniques necessary to process blood labs that were drawn in the office .  The challenge of balancing a centrifuge and pipetting contents from a vile utilized skills that I have practiced during my Chem and Bio lab periods.  Having had this academic experience, I felt calm and confident when handling these blood samples, and competently transferred the contents from my very first assignment onward.

3. What has surprised you about being an intern?

Something that surprised me about being an intern was how easy it was to grasp new workplace concepts, and apply what I have been learning in the Holy Cross classroom to real life applications. While many students find the meticulous detail of courses to be an annoyance at times, questioning if they are even pertinent to the functions of a future career, I was able to connect many bigger picture concepts to my coursework at Holy Cross.  My knowledge of psychology, cognition, memory, biology, chemistry and anatomy and physiology made my transition at Yale this summer fairly seamless and smooth. 

4. How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

Since I am planning for a career in healthcare, what better opportunity than to be trained at a world-class medical institution in an arena that focuses on a disease that has impacted millions globally?  Not only was I able to log some of those coveted patient contact hours required for any PA school, but I was also able to practice some of the basic medical and interpersonal skills and techniques that I will be using for the rest of my professional life. 

5. Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

My internship advice would be to identify what you want, and then try to get it.  Just because a Holy Cross student has never had an internship at a site that interests you, do not be afraid to strategically reach out and see if they would be amenable to the idea.  If you are able to secure a HC funded stipend, you are also in a position to market yourself as “free” to them.  I was the first non- Yale undergraduate student to intern at the ADRU.  I was so fortunate to secure the funding from Holy Cross, and then successfully tap into the HC alumni network to help me navigate the process, identify decision makers and share advice.  I would not have had the amazing ten-week internship that I had this summer if I had not figured out how to make a compelling “ask”.  If I can do it, so can others.

Meet Alum Christopher Pichay ’95, Family Physician, Circle of Life Family Medicine

Full Name: Christopher Pichay

Class Year: ’95

Title: Family Physician/DO, President/Co-Owner of Circle of Life Family Medicine

 

1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

 

As being a family physician who co owns a private family practice with my wife who is also a physician, my job entails providing health care for patients of all ages while at the same time dealing with running a business.

 

 

2. How do you balance life and work?

 

I balance my personal life and work through the grace of God and with the support of my family.  There is no other way!

 

 

3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

 

While I was on campus I was involved with intramural sports (Basketball and volleyball), a martial arts club, SPUD, and ALANA

 

 

4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

 

I majored in biology and minored in visual arts.  I had already made up my mind to become a physician before enrolling in undergrad studies and I believed biology would help with the pre med concentration and my application to medical school.  Majoring in biology prepared me to teach biology and Anatomy & Physiology to high school students.

 

 

5. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

 

Planned:  getting into medical school and becoming a physician.

Unplanned:  Having the opportunity to play D1 basketball, becoming a high school teacher upon graduation, marrying a fellow medical student and then going on to have 9 children with that spouse.  It just goes to show that sometimes your initial plan is not the correct plan and that the plan you often end up with is the best case scenario!  I have no regrets with how my life turned out and feel extremely blessed to be where I am today!

 

 

6. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

 

I found a renewed strength in my faith going to Holy Cross, a maturation in learning and how to apply what I’ve learned to real work experience, and I realized the importance of the reputation of excellence Holy Cross has established in the outside world and the lifelong camaraderie and networking advantage of being a Crusader!

Meet #CrusaderIntern Princy Sindurakar ’20, Research Assistant, Northeastern University

Name: Princy Sindurakar

Class Year: 2020

Internship (position & employer): Research Assistant, Northeastern University

 

1. Tell us about where you interned over the summer and the kind of work you were doing.

I interned and worked for the Sridhar Lab at Northeastern University, Boston, MA. I was part of a cancer cell biology research lab, where I was assigned my own research project and had the chance to assist in many of their ongoing studies. I performed several lab techniques, mainly surrounding different cancer cell lines. I was able to learn cell cultures, several biological assays, and work closely with experimentation on mice. My project focused on the development of “spacers”, radioactive implants used for efficient drug delivery system, specifically advancing cancer treatment plans. Beginning from the biological level with cancer cells to the development of these spacer implants, the project combined a lot of fields to make an impressive treatment plan to tackle prostate cancer.

2. Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?

While the combination of my chemistry and biology courses prepared me for working at the lab and taking proper precautions, being part of a research lab at Holy Cross helped me understand the extent of planning and the work put into research projects, which prepared me at my internship. I was prepared to be involved from the beginning, being active and ready for the training.

3. What has surprised you about being an intern?

I was amazed by the wide connections within the field of research and the impressive scale of translational research, especially for cancer studies. I had the opportunity to learn about different ongoing projects such as that of lung cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. While my main focus was prostate cancer and its treatment, I also learned about the different drug deliveries and lab techniques within the other projects so I was grateful to have the chance to participate in weekly lab meetings where I learned about other projects in the lab as well. I didn’t expect to be as involved as I was in the lab!

4. How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

Being a Biology major on the pre-med track, research has been an important part of my academics and career. From this internship, I was able to truly immerse myself and learn about the vast field of research. I learned about the extent of planning and organization that goes into a research study, especially with cell cultures and live animals. It has amazed me to see the vast field of cancer research and how many different minds have to come together to create a successful advancement. It has further elevated my interests in the research field and since this was more biological, I have learned I would like to pursue some type of research during or after medical school. Although I still love being around patients and in the hospital, I have also started loving research and the amazing work the field has to offer. I would like to work in the field of research during my gap years before applying to medical school and devoting myself to that path.

5. Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

Set personal goals and work on them! Take full advantage of your opportunity by networking and doing your research because you don’t only develop a certain set of skills, but also learn so much about that career field. It is your chance to ask questions, develop lasting relationships, immerse yourself within the field and find your interests!

Meet Summer Intern, Emily Rivard ’19, Harvard-Amgen Scholar at Harvard University

Name: Emily Rivard

Class Year: 2019
Internship Position: Harvard-Amgen Scholar at Harvard University

Tell us about where you interned over the summer and the kind of work you are doing.

This summer I conducted research at Harvard University through the Amgen Scholars program, which is a residential summer research opportunity allowing undergraduates to partner with a Harvard faculty mentor and work under the supervision of graduate students or post-docs in his or her lab for 10 weeks.  I worked in Dr. Hopi Hoekstra’s lab in the Departments of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology, studying the developmental and genetic bases of natural variation.  Using deer mice as a model system, we investigated the molecular mechanisms of adaptive evolution.  I had the opportunity to give an oral presentation on my work, present a poster at a university-wide symposium, and attend the annual Amgen Scholars U.S. Symposium at UCLA.  This program also offered a number of pre-professional development opportunities, such as weekly networking events and graduate school preparation seminars, as well as fun community-building programs with the other members of my Amgen cohort, including Red Sox games, hikes in the White Mountains, and Boston Harbor cruises.

 

Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?

I was able to utilize information I had learned in a variety of my biology courses during my research this summer, including material from introductory courses on organismal biology and evolution and material I learned in my upper-level courses in genetics, genomics, and cell biology.  It was really exciting to conduct research that spanned such a wide range of topics within the scope of biological research.  I am glad that Holy Cross promotes such a well-rounded education, since I think it prepared me well for working in an interdisciplinary lab.

What has surprised you about being an intern?

Working as an undergraduate researcher at a university was a new and interesting experience.  My lab this summer had a different environment than what I have experienced at Holy Cross because it was large and composed of undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, laboratory technicians, a laboratory manager, and a PI.  I was pleasantly surprised by the incredible welcome and support I received throughout the summer from everyone in the lab.

 

How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

As a biology major currently applying to PhD programs in genetics/genomics and hoping to one day become a professor, my research this summer was relevant and important to my future career goals.  This experience, in conjunction with the research I conduct in Professor Findlay’s lab at Holy Cross, gave me the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to be a competitive applicant for graduate school.  My research experiences as an undergraduate have also helped me determine the types of biology I would be interested in pursuing for my future research.

 

Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

For students interested in conducting research at other universities, I would definitely recommend getting involved with research here at Holy Cross first.  Conducting research at Holy Cross during the school year and last summer was really important for me to get the experience necessary to be a good candidate for programs like Amgen or REUs.  My research advisor here at Holy Cross was also very helpful during the process of applying to summer research programs at other schools.  The research opportunities at Holy Cross are really amazing, so I would suggest chatting with the professors here about possibilities to help with their projects!

Meet Alumna Asmani Adhav ’17, Clinical Research Coordinator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Class year: 2017
Major: Biology (with concentration in GSWS) on the Pre-Medical track
Employer: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Position: Clinical Research Coordinator- Pediatric Oncology/Hematologic Malignancy

What does your job entail?

I’m currently coordinating 14 research protocols, each of which seeks to improve survival outcomes for children with cancer. Specifically, the protocols I work on are geared towards using various therapies and techniques to tackle several different types of leukemias. There are three parts to my position: clinical interaction, regulatory organization, and data entry. Clinical interaction includes processing patient consent documents, enrolling patients onto study, following their progress through the study, communicating required research assessments to patient clinical teams, and shipping samples. Regulatory organization involves making sure that all investigators on a protocol have proper training, addressing queries that are raised by study sponsors, and ensuring that proper record-keeping is maintained throughout the study. Data entry is how all of the relevant health information for a patient on a protocol is de-identified and relayed to the study sponsor.

What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?

I have only been working in this position for 3 months now, and have already learned an enormous amount of information and medical terminology that will help me with my career ambitions moving forward. The physicians I work with on a daily basis are not only experts in their fields, but approachable and willing to teach us as much as we want to learn from them.

How did your Holy Cross education affect your career decisions?

My Holy Cross education exceptionally prepared me for this position because it taught me how to learn quickly, organize large loads of work, and form meaningful connections with people- all skills that I now use daily.

Meet CrusaderIntern Rebecca Stanton’18

Meet Rebecca Stanton’18 Research Assistant Intern at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

Tell us about where you are interning and the kind of work you are doing.

My internship is held in New York City at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. My tasks mainly involve conducting extensive research and literature review for one of the organization’s on-going reports. This report is on early prevention programs and my job is to research and analyze the effectiveness of current programs and write overviews. These overviews will be analyzed and referenced in the report. Also, I am completing data entry for a report that will evaluate each state’s insurance coverage for substance use services. Additionally, I have been given the opportunity to write a blog post on opioid addiction and the elderly. Therefore, I have been researching the most recent data on this topic and its significance.

Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?

As a psychology major, I have taken a substantial number of courses on mental health and courses that reference addiction. Therefore, I understand the majority of terms that are being used at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse and the organization’s mission statement. In my courses, psychology and others, I have conducted research and written research papers. At my internship, I have been using these writing and research skills that I have developed from my courses and help from my professors. For example, I have used my background knowledge of Psychology Statistics to evaluate studies and understand to what extent they are effective.

What has surprised you about being an intern?

The most surprising aspect of being an intern is how much responsibility I have been given. Before starting the internship, I expected that I would be writing and researching, but what I did not expect was the extent to which I felt part of a team. I frequently have meetings with my supervisors and research associates about the on-goings reports and find that my tasks are valued and appreciated.

How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?

I plan to go into the healthcare sector, specifically as a Nurse Practitioner, and my experience thus far has reaffirmed my plans. What I have learned from my internship is the prevalence of addiction and the responsibility that healthcare professionals share in tackling this problem. From the extensive research I have done, I now have a better understanding of what influence I could potentially have in minimizing addiction.

Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?

For students interested in an internship, the best advice I can give is to be open-minded. There are going to be things that you find to be exciting and intriguing and others that you find to be tedious. However, an internship is meant to be a learning experience and there is always something you can take away from it.