August 7th Boog Blog Post

As I wrap up the summer portion of the Genomics and Society Mentorship Program, I am looking forward to the fall and spring semester aspects of the program. This fall, I will be attending a bioethics journal club through the Berman Institute of Bioethics, attending seminars of those in the healthcare field, and holding a bioethics seminar at Binghamton. The poster presentation went extremely well; I networked with many researchers and administrators at the symposium. I worked on an elevator pitch for my research, which helped my public speaking skills tremendously. On August 30th-31st, I will be presenting my research to the NIH and networking with those attending. 

This whole experience has made me realize the value of networking, as I am now aware of many research and internship opportunities that were not open to the public yet. This has helped me get a better understanding of how post-baccs and PhD programs work, as one becomes an extremely competitive applicant knowing someone “on the inside.” As a first-generation low-income college student, I did come to higher education knowing someone doing anything. I had no networking experience and no one knew of my skills. At first, I thought networking was reserved for people with successful parents, but GSMP has made me realize anyone can network, you just have to put yourself out there. Had I known this, I would’ve made connections with those in the field I aspire to be successful in much earlier in my undergraduate career. 

As January 1st grows near (the deadline for most post-bacc and graduate programs), I get increasingly anxious and excited. I have had a pretty linear path to achieving my goals since high school; I always knew I wanted to be a professor and have always had a passion for ethics and medicine. However, GSMP has exposed me to the reality of bioethics: it is more established as a field than anticipated. I always thought that one had a full-time career (i.e. professor, lawyer, doctor, etc.) in order to contribute to the field, but this has evolved. There are now PhD programs in bioethics and you can research bioethics full-time now. This had made me reconsider the applications I will be completing this fall. Do I continue with the PhD in Philosophy? Do I apply for a PhD in Health Policy? Bioethics? How competitive am I for law school? I have been so focused on the ethics side, I did not take into consideration the various paths I could take to achieve the same goal: becoming a bioethicist and clinical ethicist. But that’s the beauty of it. There are no wrong answers. The skills and knowledge I have learned in the Genomics and Society Mentorship Program have made me realize it is okay to take a gap year and build my skills, so my current plan is to apply to the NIH Post-Bacc Fellowship in Bioethics, other post-baccs, some clinical research assistantships, and policy internships. Without the Boog Internship Fund, I would not have been able to realize the different ways to achieve my goals and meet people successful in such a new field. I am very grateful to have had such an amazing opportunity this summer!

By Briana Lopez-Patino
Briana Lopez-Patino