While most high school students spent their summers relaxing by the pool or hanging out with friends, University of Maryland, Baltimore Cohort 1 (UMB) CURE fellows were working hard to prepare for their final year. This final year of high school is a pivotal time for students to strengthen and improve their university applications with extracurricular activities and unique experiences. That’s why Ayishat Yussuf, Markia Eubanks, Princaya Sanders and Jaden Buggs spent their summer on a rewarding professional internship at Becton Dickinson (BD), a Fortune 500 company specializing in medical technology.
âI am blessed because a lot of people don’t have opportunities like this at such a young age,â said Yussuf, 12.e grader at Baltimore City College. âA lot of people do research like this when they’re a lot older, so going through this whole experience before you even graduate from high school is kinda nice. “
These four fellows were linked to this paid internship opportunity at BD through CURE Career Navigators, the final stage of the UMB CURE fellowship program, which is designed to prepare 11e and 12e college students through mentoring, SAT preparation, work placements, and support for financial and academic aid applications.
During this eight-week internship, researchers virtually met their comic book mentors to learn more about their respective topics, ask questions and follow the progress of their research.
Yussuf and Eubanks worked together to research how HPV and cervical cancer diagnoses and screenings have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the mentorship of Nikos Pavlidis, MSc, BSc, Vice President and General Manager of Molecular Diagnostics and Women’s Health at BD Lifesciences, they were able to identify barriers to access and provided recommendations to mitigate those barriers. They even had the opportunity to connect with a cervical cancer researcher in Denmark to learn more about the difference between American and European forms of treatment and access to medical care.
âI was genuinely impressed with their skills and how quickly they were able to learn these sophisticated concepts,â said Pavlidis. âWhen they presented their research, they were confident and professional, and they did a fantastic job. “
Sindhushree Raghuandar, PhD, personnel engineer at BD, echoed Pavlidis’ feelings about his own CURE Scholar mentees, Sanders and Buggs. They spent their internship studying data science, cybersecurity, and computer-aided design and writing (CADD).
âI was so impressed throughout the whole process that they brought up all the topics and they really digested it and made it their own and they were able to perform all the tasks that we gave themâ, a- she declared.
For Bugs, a 12e A freshman at Green Street Academy, this internship inspired him to learn more about CADD and pursue engineering and design studies at university. He said that at the start of the internship he felt intimidated by computer coding, but with the help of his mentors he was able to tackle the concept very quickly.
âI really didn’t think I was going to get it the first time,â he said. âBut when I did it myself, I was so excited I did it right. I told my parents about it, and they were proud of me too, which just got me excited about my future in engineering.
The BD internship ended with a formal presentation of the researchers on their research and what they learned during their internship. They presented their projects to CURE faculty and staff as well as their mentors and other professional BD researchers.
âIt really is a starting point for their academic and professional paths,â said Raghuandar. âExploring early in your career is essential to being able to discover what really excites you, and it gave them the opportunity to be able to explore at an early age. “
The other students in the CURE scholarship program have also had a busy summer. High school students were also able to take advantage of summer internships at several locations, including the University of Maryland Medical Center, CodeWorks, the YES program, the APL ASPIRE internship, and the CURE’s Vaccine Hesitancy study. Meanwhile, high school students participated in a virtual summer program led by their teachers, mentors and students, faculty and staff from UMB schools.
CURE’s regular after-school programming is expected to continue in October 2021.