A window inside life at Augustana College

Houston Group Blog- Part 1

Howdy, y’all!

I thought you might be getting sick of hearing about me all the time, so I thought it would be fun to have other members of the group write little mini-blogs so you can see what everyone in the group has been up to. Here are the first three- look for more to come!!!

KATIE VOIGT:
Heyyy ya’all!
My name is Katie and I’m a senior, biology and sociology major. Currently, I am interning at University of Texas Children’s Hospital and absolutely loving the experience!! Texas Medical Center is honestly the most fascinating place on Earth! One of the many great moments I have had on this adventure was when my mentor said that she was impressed with my understanding of the material. My mentor was on vacation the week that I arrived in Texas. Thus, she set me up with 15 or so, veryyyy long and complicated, journal articles relating to thrombosis (blot clots) and pulmonary embolisms (when the blot travels to your lungs and causes infarction). None the less, I was fairly overwhelmed by all the journal articles and all the new medical terminology. However, it was all worth it when she came back from her vacation and tested me, verbally, over the material and stated that she was impressed by the work that I had put into the readings. Because she was so impressed, she let me go on consults with the team of medical students for the next two days. During these two days, there was also another undergraduate student from Yale (a prestigious, ivy league school). As the rounds proceeded, it was quite clear that I was better prepared and was able to keep up with the “doctor language.” As you can see, Augustana has prepared me extremely well for this adventure and I couldn’t be more proud of my undergrad institution. Lastly, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other Augustana students. As small as Augustana is, I didn’t know any of these 10 students before I came down here. However, it is amazing how much you learn from each other. For example, sitting at the dinner table last night, we had great talks about T-cells vs. B-cells and Breast Cancer, Wilm’s Tumors in pediatrics, and giving premature babies caffeine to keep them awake so they can consciously think about breathing, etc. Its amazing how much we learn from each other as well as support each other on the challenging days down here in Houston, Texas!!!
Enjoy your Summer!
Katie

KATE DEMPSEY
Hi! My name is Kate Dempsey and I am a biology and psychology major here at Augie going into my senior year! In Houston, I am working at the MD Anderson Cancer Center with a rare form of childhood kidney cancer known as Wilms’ Tumor. My project involves looking for a familial link to see if there is a possible genetic linkage in families. The long term goal of this project is to develop a genetic test to assess an individuals genetic risk of developing WT, much like a BRCA test looks at ones genetic risk of developing breast cancer. The project has been going on for almost a decade now, with no success. However, because of new technology, the chances of finding the gene have dramatically increased.
So far, this job has been one of the greatest learning experiences in my life. I think the most important lesson is that we have to take everything we are handed in life in stride. Despite the fact that I have, as of yet, not made nearly any progress on this project and have had more failed experiments than successful ones, I now understand that there are so many worse things in life that could happen. We are surrounded by illness every day, whether we realize it or not. Working at the world’s largest cancer center certainly puts your own life in perspective.
I am definitely struggling to narrow down my favorite moments. One would have to be family dinners. I am so grateful to have the Augie group down here. We sometimes wonder if we are a part of some strange social experiment, with the way all of our personalities work together. When we all get to talking (and laughing with / at each other), it is not unusual for dinner to last much longer than it should. Another favorite memory is celebrating my birthday with everyone a few weeks ago. That Ruggles red velvet cake was fantastic :)
Kate

JUSTINE NGUYEN

Hello world! My name is Justine and I’m working for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center this summer. My research in the Melanoma Medical Oncology Department involves using the body’s own immune system to fight against late stage melanoma and breast cancer. I work mostly in a laboratory setting, but my research is considered “translational,” meaning it goes straight into the clinic to help real, live cancer patients. Augustana prepared me well with laboratory techniques and just general scientific facts to handle nearly any situation thrown at me here. From T-cells to plasmid preparations, I feel confident in my knowledge and abilities, even when some of my co-workers are from Ivy League schools. More than anything, Augustana has taught me to take advantage of every opportunity given to us, meaning never accepting “no” for an answer. Many of us here are volunteering at Texas Children’s Hospital only out of pestering the volunteer coordinator. Our next challenge is to meet Jen from the “Little Couple.” J
Without a doubt, my best memories are around the dinner table with the people I now consider my family. Dr. Hiedi Storl brought a truly diverse and quirky group together in Texas, but it all worked for the best. Our group dynamic is hilarious and incredibly supportive. Everyday we come home from work to eat and share our mishaps, awkward moments, triumphs, and failures. As cheesy as it sounds, I’m so lucky to have my Augie family here because we really take care of each other physically and emotionally. I couldn’t imagine this trip without them.
Justine

Hope you all enjoyed hearing what these three ladies have been up to! (Even put some pics in here just for you, Daddy!) Stay tuned for more from the others (as soon as they get their act together and find some time to write them haha!)

Love always,
Katrina

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