Archives for September 2021

Constacion Humphrey: Summer Youth Basketball Coach

Over the past month I have volunteered with a high school basketball team, which has challenged me mentally, physically and emotionally. The experience overall was great, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to grow a connection with these players. During the camp, I have improved in many areas in my life, things that will be helpful in the future. My communication skills improved and my leadership skills. I was able to take on a task where I was responsible for the outcome of the improvement of the players and the outcome of the camp. During these few weeks, I was able to meet some young players who I saw potential in. Seeing and meeting these young ladies, it felt as if it was me in high school all over again. They were so determined and motivated to learn. Their love for basketball could not go unnoticed. Throughout the summer, they were patient, consistent and hardworking. There were so many problems and situations that continued to pop up and came close to ruining our plans for this summer. With players who were both trained well and overachievers, we were able to overcome every obstacle that came our way. I am currently majoring in Exercise Science, which consists of being around a lot of athletes. My goal for this experience was to be able to experience hands on what I plan on doing in the future. Also, this opportunity enabled me to gain volunteer experience and hours. Although those were my main goals for this experience and I was able to achieve them, I gained so much more. Being able to work with these players and interact with them confirmed that I am in the correct field. I enjoyed every part of it, even being able to come up with solutions to different problems. From this experience I was able to gain better leadership and communication communication skills. I was able to learn how to be patient and encouraging. I became more comfortable with speaking out and taking charge of what needs to be done and corrected. Not only did I achieve my actual goals, I was also able to achieve lifelong goals. With this summer camp, I was able to grow a better connection with my old teammates from high school. We always worked together as a team on the court and now this summer we had the opportunity to work together as a team to help another team improve and grow a lifelong connection. Every problem that came our way we tackled together, moving forward and making sure the players were able to gain from the summer camp instead of having to worry about anything. Something that I particularly enjoyed about this experience was the connections we grew with each player. Each connection was different but special. We made sure that it was not always just about basketball, but also about learning how to connect and communicate with new people. Over this month we participated in team bonding activities, getting to know one another on a personal level.

Diante Woodson: JP Morgan Software Engineering Internship

My internship with JP Morgan Chase & Co. for Summer 2021 was an amazing experience and made me significantly excited to start my career as a software engineer. I would love to do it with JP Morgan Chase & Co. unless I get outstanding job offers that I deem would be better for my situation. I wasn’t just “an intern” and I wasn’t given an intern “pet project’ (something to do on the side and the senior engineers help me with outside of the work that they do on actual products that will be used by JP Morgan Chase & Co.); rather, I was integrated directly into the full-time engineering team, comprised of nine senior engineers, five junior engineers, and one other intern, and given work that I would do as if I were a full-time engineer. This experience showed me what I enjoyed, and what I would be doing whenever I take my engineering experience to industry.

Ganell Jones: Biomedical Research Internship at UAMS

This past summer, I had the pleasure of being a part of the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. My hopes for this summer were to sharpen my laboratory, scientific writing, and communication skills. With high hopes of achievement and the chance to utilize all of the techniques I learned in class, I did all that and more.

I joined Dr. Justin Leung’s lab investigating the DNA damage repair pathway in the Department of Radiation Oncology for the summer. Although I had been eager to start, the truth is, I was so nervous the first day I mistakenly mixed two of the wrong reagents in a reaction and had to redo the experiment the following day. After the first week, I started getting familiar with the protocols and took pride in writing very detailed notes. I asked questions – lots of questions. I also did a lot of reading and independent study. I wanted answers to my questions, and as I said, I had a lot of questions. Before July started, I had nearly run out of pages in my notebook. The more I learned, the more questions I would have. I was an inquirer, many times, going down rabbit holes as I would go through papers and their references. As I started to understand the individual reactions and how they aligned with the project, I was finally speaking, writing, and doing science. 

The goal of my project was to dissect the molecular genetics of the histone variant, H2AX, c-terminal tail and investigate its biological functions in the DNA damage response. Alanine mutagenesis was used to evaluate the contribution of individual amino acids on the H2AX c-terminal to the DNA damage response pathway. One at a time, we substituted each amino acid to alanine to observe its effects. We analyzed the recruitment of DNA damage response associated proteins with each mutation to determine its contribution. This process was neither always easy, nor always challenging. It did, however, take some time to learn. .Some days we risked contamination, or our experiments did not work, and we were back to square one, but every day I was proud of the work I was doing and had done. 

As the program came to an end, I got the chance to showcase my project. Through the INBRE program, I produced my first publication and had the opportunity to present an oral presentation on my project. Again, I did this nervously, but if I have learned anything this summer, it is to step out of my comfort zone. This summer, I got the chance to push my abilities to new heights. I embarked on this journey with a few minor goals, but I accomplished way more. I developed new ways of thinking, learned lots of new techniques, and got the chance to be a part of an amazing group of people making memories that I’ll forever cherish.

MJ Wetzel: Comedy and Storytelling

My work this summer learning to write humorous stories for performance fit with my goal of building a skill I could use for Honors events.  I  ended up performing one polished piece at our sophomore retreat and another one for a move-in open mic night.  I suspect using pieces of this style will make my future presentations more engaging, and I feel comfortable enough with the new style to try integrating it into assignments. 

In order to improve my writing and concentration of humor, I had to share my work verbally with more than just my deaf dog (see picture).  Suddenly, the family gatherings I usually dreaded became opportunities to test material.  With my improved attitude and humorous pre-written lines to slip into conversation, I found myself actually enjoying them and not getting in trouble for discussing my homosexuality, gender experiences, or autism!  In addition to writing, I wanted the Honors Junior Seminar course “Experiential Learning” to help me navigate and communicate with the world around me, and I’d say thriving at a family gathering is a sign I met this goal.  I’ll just have to see if I can carry these skills over to interacting with peers at school.

 As a result of working on the project, I also began to follow The Yarn radio show’s Facebook page and am looking forward to attending a live performance.  I wish I would have known about them sooner so I could have written that into my original Experiential Learning plan, but I’m glad to know about them now.  Sharing a story with them will be another post-class goal to consider.