Investigating in a Real-World Setting
The third component of the Discovery! process is Investigation. While the word may seem just like Exploration and Research, this third piece of the puzzle is very different. We see Investigation as bringing together what you have learned and applying that knowledge in the real world. Talking to professionals in the fields you are considering is crucial. Getting an authentic pictures of what you could do with the major you’re considering helps you to cement your decisions. TTU’s Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement (CALUE) is a great resource for giving your learning a more tangible context. Just what can they do? Guest blogger Andrew Armstrong was nice enough to tell us all about it!
Capitalizing on Opportunities through Investigation
When I started attending Texas Tech University in 2009, I was not yet sure what exactly I wanted to pursue, or even how to go about answering that question. I did however know that working hard and capitalizing on opportunities was going to be a must. Organizations like the TTU/HHMI Undergraduate Research Program and the TTU Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement enabled me to not only discover what I can be passionate about, but also gave me the tools and opportunities to successfully chase those aspirations. When I began working in a research lab as a sophomore, I quickly recognized that I was learning just as much about not only the biological sciences, but also the realities of the working world as I was in the classroom. Obtaining these types of experiences is truly invaluable when it comes time to search for a job, or apply to a post graduate program because it is the “real world experience” that employers and admissions committees are looking for in candidates. While I was interviewing for medical school, I was constantly referencing lessons of the working environment, conflict resolution, and perspectives gained from working in a research lab and traveling to present alongside TTU faculty.
As I look back on working with TTU/HHMI and CALUE, it is not only the opportunities that I remember, but also all the great times that I had with them. These extracurricular involvements enabled me to travel around the country to places like San Jose, California and Seattle, Washington as well as around Texas to present my research and speak with faculty from other universities. My one regret as an undergraduate was not finding the time to study abroad, as everyone I have spoken to about doing so has raved about how incredible of an opportunity it is, and this too is available through CALUE. All of these things have allowed me to gain acceptance to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, and to feel excited and prepared for success as I head into that next phase of my education.
This past summer, I traveled to Alaska to go backpacking in Denali National Park with two other undergraduate researchers and had the time of my life. Shortly after that, I traveled with another TTU/HHMI and CALUE undergraduate researcher as well as Dr. Kim Peck of TTUHSC-SOM with a medical mission team to Kenya where we established a primary care clinic outside of Malindi. This clinic saw on average 200 patients a day, and will continue to operate seeing roughly 20 patients a day in the future. I was able to work in the lab portion of this clinic administering malaria and HIV tests, as well as urinalysis and pregnancy tests. Again, my time in research and education at TTU enabled me to do these things. Texas Tech has become a home away from home for me and I couldn’t be happier about my experience and future here.