As a high school student, the pressure to choose a good career path is only growing. I knew that the HYRS Program could give me the opportunity to further explore and pursue a degree in the sciences, as well as to gain valuable insight into university life. I wanted to spend my summer building on and developing skills both in the lab and through networking at one of Canada’s leading research universities.
Who is your mentor and what is your project?
I am currently working in Dr. Jiami Guo’s lab to determine the impact of dysfunctional primary cilia on nerves in the brain. My research focuses on neuron reconstruction to find how disease-causing mutations in certain genes can affect the shape and connectivity of dendrites. What are your career goals?
I hope to further explore the area of healthcare as my current plan is to enter a career in the biomedical or social sciences; HYRS has only affirmed that decision.
What is the most valuable experience you’ve had in HYRS so far? Would you say that HYRS is a unique program in any way?
While my career goals have always been centered around science, my exposure to these fields has been limited. HYRS gives me more opportunities in six weeks than many people get to experience in a lifetime. Throughout my placement, my expectations have been far exceeded. I’m able to gain experience from past alumni as well as tour exciting facilities and labs.
It offers a different form of education than that of traditional high school classes or lab demonstrations. The product of my hard work will be the knowledge that I am helping real people – not just a letter grade or a paycheck. This summer job doesn’t feel like a job at all, it’s rather a summer of continuous learning and exploration.
What has been your favourite part of HYRS so far?
This summer I have not only been working in the lab, but I’ve also been able to grow with a group of like-minded students who are passionate about science. Over the course of the program, we’ve developed close friendships through the planning of numerous get-togethers and lunch time conversations. Many of us already agree that participating in HYRS has influenced our career aspirations in some way.
What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned?
From the labs I’ve visited and heard about, I’ve learned that research can come in many different forms. We have the chance to work with researchers who are making breakthroughs in biomedical engineering technologies, treatment development, public policy, and much more. So many components tie in together to make up what health care is. Even if I sometimes feel incompetent or like I’m not contributing anything, I now know that everyone’s work – regardless of how insignificant it may seem – is part of a bigger picture.
Would you recommend HYRS to other students?
I would definitely encourage anyone considering this program to apply. It allows you to gain an awareness of different careers available in health-related fields that you didn’t know even existed. HYRS opens so many doors and can show you where your interests lie, and how your talents can be put to the best use.