Undergraduate Research Experience
I hated doing science fair projects in elementary and high school. I remember discussing this fact with my freshman biology teacher. “Why do I have to do this?” I asked. “I’m not going to be a scientist. I’m going to be a doctor.” I had known this since I was 6 years old.
Having hopes of becoming a doctor describes so many of us who walk through the door of Dr. Molly Hill’s cell biology class during our first year at Oklahoma Christian. But for some of us…well, our plans change without us even realizing it.
I accepted Dr. Hill’s invitation to begin working in undergraduate research at the start of my sophomore year. “I could use some extra cash,” I thought. “And it would look good on my application for medical school.” At first it was just a job, but it quickly became something more…something I absolutely loved to do. It was an opportunity to take what I was learning in the classroom and explore it outside of the textbook. It was an avenue through which I learned to think critically. It took advantage of my attention to detail and taught me how to carefully analyze data and plan the next experiment so I could gain a better understanding of the effects of disease. Ultimately, the time spent in the lab built up my confidence in myself as a potential scientist, a possibility I had not even considered until then.
By the time I graduated, there wasn’t a day I wasn’t seen in the lab. And I’m still there. I have been employed by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City since 2001. My experience as an undergraduate researcher set me apart from other applicants as I looked for a job as a research technician. And I didn’t have to take just any position; I was able to choose where I wanted to be. That says a lot about the program at Oklahoma Christian University. Give it a try. But watch out…you may become a scientist after all.
Karen’s current plans: She plans to begin graduate school in the fall of 2004 in pursuit of a Ph.D. after which she hopes to teach science at the university level.