Elena Kurudza - Freshman Biology Student/Genetics lab volunteer
What were the features of the BIOL camp that, while participating, you found particularly engaging?
I really appreciated the lectures, actually. In addition to the content, they really helped once I got to school with how to take notes in a college lecture setting. It was also beneficial to see all the different teaching styles and to get to know a lot of the faculty. Not only were the presentations on what research the biology department was involved in interesting but also it helped me discover that I wanted to work in Dr. Doering’s lab. It was great interacting with the Grad students because they were able to share a lot of their experiences with us and give useful advice. We played this game on this website where it shows a CAT scan or an x-ray and it tells you all the symptoms, then you basically have to diagnose the disease. So it was motivating to see what our next steps will be.
Do you feel that it helped you get a more wide-angle perspective of what our Biology curriculum entails?
The lab was especially helpful because it was so different than the labs we did in high school. The mock lab practical exam was especially eye-opening seeing that I had never taken an exam like that before. I also then knew I was definitely going to have to do the reading beforehand. That really helped when I got here and could say, “Alright, I know what to expect from these labs” and then jump in right away without sacrificing the first couple labs because I needed to adjust.
How do you feel the program prepared you for campus life in general?
Other than the fact that you get to know where the buildings are –that really helped- you make a lot of friends, so when you get to school it wasn’t like you didn’t have anybody. We are all still so close – it’s almost like a little family. The BIOL camp helped in my other classes as well because I realized that you can have a personal relationship with the professors. Sitting in the smaller rooms and seeing them every day at the BIOL camp, made me realize that they are not some intimidating person that you can’t approach and ask questions. So, in all my classes, I was a lot more comfortable being the student who introduced myself, asked questions, and got to know my teachers.
Having gone through the first half of the Freshman Biology curriculum, how well do feel the BIOL camp worked as a primer for General Biology?
The first couple of weeks it really helped because we had talked about those chapters at BIOL camp. So, I would be in class and say, “Oh yeah, this sounds familiar.” I think all-of-a-sudden it hits when you haven’t learned something but a lot of the techniques we learned at BIOL camp helped get you through that. I do think it really helped me in understanding the broader concepts. It allowed me to figure out what the key ideas are that you focus on in the department and the different themes across Biology.
You said earlier that the BIOL camp led you to work in a research lab; could you tell us a little bit more about that?
I kind of went out on a limb. I was talking to Dr. Castignetti at the end of the BIOL camp and told him that I was interested in Genetics research. He told me who to email. And so, over the summer, I just looked on the Biology Department homepage to see what was being researched, and I remembered Dr. Doering’s presentation [at the BIOL camp]. So I sent him an email and told him, “I’m a freshman, and I don’t know much, but you’ll have me all four years. I would love the opportunity to work in your lab.” Now he has just taken me under his wing. The material he’s researching is a little over my head right now, but he’s presented it to me in such a way that it is not overwhelming. At first I was just going to the lab meetings, and he’s been meeting with me every couple of months just to see how I understand things. I read the papers in that area of research, and over the summer I will start actually working in the lab. So, I think that the BIOL camp helped me to realize that is the kind of thing that I can just take into my own hands. You don’t have to sit there and wait until the opportunity is right in front of you. You can take charge of your experiences, not only when it comes to research but all the opportunities Loyola has to offer.