Born and raised in different corners of the world, two UMass Dartmouth Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) students have accepted ten-week summer internships at leading U.S. medical institutions on their road to graduate school.
Tajaun T. Francis ’23, who was born and raised in Jamaica and now lives in Nantucket, will intern at the Mayo Clinic’s Summer Lab Science Program in Rochester, MN. He will work alongside Mayo Clinic laboratory employees and will perform pre-analytical functions, work on laboratory-related projects, and potentially observe high-complexity testing. His responsibilities may include aliquoting, extraction, centrifugation, assay and instrument validation, and instrument preparation and loading.
“I was very happy to receive this internship, so I could start gaining some experience in the field I’m interested in,” he said. “I immediately told all my friends and family members and professors as this is a big opportunity in a new city.”
Taonga Yatr Horace ’23 will intern at UMass Chan Medical School’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program. She will work on a research project, learn laboratory-related tasks, and create a research poster that she will present at the end of the program. While performing hands-on lab research with an investigator who serves as a mentor, Horace will gain in-depth exposure to biomedical research while creating career-building connections.
“I wrote this goal down on a vision board two years ago and I didn’t think it would come to fruition,” said Horace, who was born and raised in Zambia and arrived in the U.S. just three years ago. “It was a full-circle moment, I was so happy! This is a great opportunity, and I can’t wait to spend my summer learning about how scientific research is conducted.”
“The Mayo Clinic and UMass Chan Medical School are world-famous healthcare institutions,” said Professor and Department Chair Frank Scarano. “Their summer programs are very competitive, and we are so happy for Taonga and Tajaun in being offered these internships, which is a testament to the education they have received at UMass Dartmouth. These are wonderful opportunities that will augment their undergraduate experiences in Medical Laboratory Science and open doors for a variety of graduate programs and future career paths.”
Both enjoy the hands-on, “human” focus of the MLS major and look forward to helping to treat patients
Francis, who has a pre-med concentration, plans to work in a healthcare setting or do research after completing his education. He also plans to attend graduate school but is undecided whether to pursue an advanced degree in a health- or STEM-related field. “I feel like this internship can give me a better scope of what I can see myself doing,” he said.
“For me, the field that interests me the most is microbiology as I like the problem-solving and figuring out which of the thousands of microorganisms this patient could possibly have. I find that very cool,” Francis added.
MLS appealed to Francis as a major more than general biology or chemistry because it is human-based. “I prefer to work in a laboratory 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 this data that the lab provides,” he said.
Horace hopes to become a physician and work with underserved populations in America. She said she has always had a passion for science and a desire to help others. “I chose this major because it is very hands-on and requires critical thinking skills. I am excited to one day join a field that helps relay medical information to clinicians in order to access proper treatment or prevent serious illnesses for patients.”