Feature Stories 2023: Tajaun Francis '23: Growing his passion for pathology and lab medicine

Portrait for Commencement story
Feature Stories 2023: Tajaun Francis '23: Growing his passion for pathology and lab medicine
Tajaun Francis '23: Growing his passion for pathology and lab medicine

Following an internship at the Mayo Clinic, MLS major fosters his confidence and leadership

Why UMassD?

Can you describe UMass Dartmouth in one word?  


Why did you choose UMass Dartmouth? 

“I ended up choosing UMass Dartmouth based on the location. I also liked the cost, the campus size, and the student to faculty ratio. I went to a small high school, so I wanted something similar to that in college. Other than my general and organic chemistry courses, all of my classes here have had less than 30 students.” 

Experience in Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) 

Why did you choose MLS as your major? 

“When I was applying for college, I knew that I wanted to be in the healthcare field, but I didn't just want to do biology or chemistry. I saw that UMass Dartmouth offers this program, so I did some research on the field. When I got accepted at UMass Dartmouth, I went to Admitted Students Day and was captivated by the labs and hands-on approach in MLS. I wanted a major that included a lot of labs that focused on humans at a clinical level. This program made me realize my passion for pathology and lab medicine, and I hope to keep growing in the field.

“I prefer to work in a laboratory rather than a classroom because actually seeing what I’m doing helps me to put all the key pieces together conceptually. I like lab testing and seeing how physicians work off the data that the lab provides.” 

Seated, wearing STEM T-shirt
Francis is involved in many student organizations. He served as president of the Medical Laboratory Science Club and the STEMming While Black Club and remains involved in both groups. He is also a senator for the Student Government Association and is a Senior Resident Assistant.


Francis has plenty of leadership experience under his belt. This year, he is working as a Senior Resident Assistant, and is also the Senior Representative for both the STEMming While Black Club and the Medical Laboratory Science Club. Last year, he served as president for these student organizations but, for his senior year, he wanted to act as a mentor to the new members.  

Francis also serves as the Student Government Association (SGA) senator for the class of 2023, as well as the SGA’s Infrastructure Chair Committee.  

“I have definitely gained valuable knowledge and soft skills from these leadership experiences that I can take to my future career. It is not strictly laboratory-related, but through these experiences, I have been able to work with different peopleand learn how to get along with people. Especially since becoming a Resident Assistant, I have learned that you have to show others respect in order to get respect back from them.”  

What was your experience serving on the Student Government Association? 

“As a senator, my main priorities were to advocate for the students. As Infrastructure Chair, I dealt with student concerns regarding facilities on campus, energy use, and access for people with disabilities. I work closely with Facilities, Housing, and IT services.”  

What was your experience as the treasurer of the STEMming While Black Club? 

“Being the STEMming While Black treasurer was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I made the budget for each semester and controlled everything monetarily related to the club, even though we only had $1,000 for the entire year. We were even able to get stoles for all our seniors’ last year! 

"Serving as treasurer has helped me gain necessary life skills such as money management and how to advocate for myself and others. Now I know how to plan and execute events and, more importantly, how to be a reliable leader and delegator.”  

What was your experience as president of the Medical Laboratory Science Club? 

During his time as president of the MLS Club, Francis started a study initiative. “One night a month, we would have study nights, and upperclassmen would help the others.”  

Wearing lab coat, working in MLS lab
Last summer, Francis completed a prestigious internship at the Mayo Clinic, where he worked as a lab assistant and earned a job offer.

Internship at the Mayo Clinic 

Francis had an internship at the Mayo Clinic’s Summer Lab Science Program in Rochester, Minnesota, where he worked as a lab assistant. The internship was introduced to him through the MLS program faculty.  

“I worked in the hospital clinical lab where they serviced the ER, ICU, NICU, and OR stat testing. I also had a lot of shadowing opportunities with test developers, pathologists, pathologist assistants, and research scientists. I got to participate in their studies and spent time watching pathologists’ dissections. I even got to watch a couple of autopsies.” 

Francis’ internship at the Mayo Clinic has helped him to develop confidence in his laboratory skills and techniques, but it has also allowed him to experience living in a new city. This internship has led to a job offer from the Mayo Clinic.  


Francis did his senior capstone research project, required of all MLS majors, at Cape Cod Hospital.  

“My case study is a multiple antibody investigation for a patient with Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Type 2 diabetes without complication.” 

Looking Back 

What are some of your favorite memories from your time at UMass Dartmouth? 

“By far my favorite experiences on campus were when I hung out with my friends, whether that was going to football or basketball games, parties, or hanging out in our apartment.” 

Do you have a favorite faculty or staff member?  

“My favorite staff member hands-down is Mandy Browning, who works in the mailroom! She was my first-ever boss on campus as I worked for her in the mailroom my sophomore year and part of my junior year. She is easily the most caring individual on this campus. She goes out of her way for every student. Whenever I need to pick up a package or just have some free time to visit, I know that I will be there for at least 30 minutes catching up with her.” 

Do you have any advice for future UMass Dartmouth students? 

“Get involved and find your people. It is imperative to do fun things on the weekends or whenever you can so that you can give yourself a break. I had a rule for myself where I tried to get most of my work done during the week, so the weekend could be mine.” 

Looking Ahead 

What are your plans for after you graduate? 

Currently I'm not sure exactly what I will be doing. Right now, the plan is to take the MLS board exam and go on a well-needed vacation. I hope to work while studying for a master's in biotechnology or pathology.” 

This story was written by Kamryn Kobel, junior English major and University Marketing assistant.