Before coming to Hope, I had the realization that it was going to be hard to be able to gain a lot of experience in research within the Biology field. As an international student from the Philippines, I barely had any research experience and I was not able to either shadow or intern within other institutions prior to going to college. Yet, I had the passion and drive to pursue a career in research as I loved the fields of Microbiology at that time. That all changed within the Spring 2021.
Starting as a Laboratory Technician
I must admit that I was not someone who was really enthusiastic about being an international during that time as I had so many things going on. From adjusting to the weather and new culture to being far away from my family, I think it was a major struggle for me to be part of the Hope College community. As I was finding on-campus jobs at Hope College, I was offered to be a laboratory technician within the McDonough-Stukey Laboratory during my freshman year. As a laboratory technician, I was cleaning glassware and preparing the the necessary reagents and equipment needed for all the research students and their professors within the laboratory. I remember thinking to myself that I really wanted to be one of those researchers during my time at Hope. I thought that the Science they were doing was so cool.
Undergraduate Research Program
As I figured out what to do during the summer of 2021, I applied to the Hope College Undergraduate Research Program with my top choice being Dr. Stukey’s bacteriophage research. I remember hoping so much that I would get this opportunity. On a regular Thursday, I was washing test tubes and Dr. Stukey approached me and asked if he could explain his research to me and I immediately burst into joy. As he was explaining his research, there were definitely some aspects that I immediately was able to get and some that I did not. Yet as I learned over the years, it is valid for you to ask questions along the way and he definitely pushed me to think critically and outside of the box.
Five semesters and two summer research programs at Hope College later, I am currently a Hope College Biology Undergraduate researcher. I must admit that the journey was definitely not easy, yet I learned so much from the process.
When doing research at Hope College, I would definitely advise students to reach out to professors within their respective departments about such opportunities as Hope College professors love talking about their research. Whether it is research that may be outside of your box, it is something you should definitely consider as it might surprise you.
Learning from my Mistakes
If you think that being a researcher is always about being perfect and doing everything flawlessly, that is not always the case.
Believe me, I made so many mistakes along the way, yet my professors helped me realize these errors and learn from it. As a Hope College student, I just love that the professors here really do care for you and your future no matter what you go through.
I also got to present within my own department and beyond. Though I did not see myself being a presenter, I think being able to explain your research so casually to anyone whether someone who is in your field of study or not was the best achievement I have ever made.
With the support from friends, family and faculty and the many realizations I have made along the way, my undergraduate research experience at Hope College has definitely changed the way I appreciate my field of study even more.
If you want to know more about my research, don’t be afraid to stop by Schapp Room 3009. It is the place I call home away from home. Dr. Stukey and Dr. McDonough-Stukey have been amazing career mentors during my time here at Hope College.