Given the scholastic background to attend a myriad of “top-notch” schools, I opted to stay close to home and attend Fairmont State, at least for a semester or two, on a full academic scholarship. I knew I wanted to be a medical researcher and, after all, how in the world could I be adequately prepared to do that with an education from Fairmont State? Very easily, as I found out, with much credit due to the learning environment and the outstanding faculty. During my undergraduate studies, I spent a summer working in the HIV vaccine lab at Johns Hopkins Medical School and was even chosen as the top national applicant to attend a semester study session at the National Institutes of Health. The best part…being surrounded by undergraduates from Ivy League institutions and knowing that even though I came from a school they had never heard of, I, the student from Fairmont State, was academically ranked above them. After completing my undergraduate studies in Biology and Chemistry at Fairmont State, I directly began my Ph.D. studies in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology at West Virginia University’s Health Sciences Center. In July 2005 I defended my doctoral dissertation on the recovery and role of immune cells after human hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Upon completing my graduate work, I immediately began working as a scientist for the Institute for Scientific Research, Inc., in Fairmont, W.Va. My task is to promote the establishment of biotechnology as a core competency within the institute and to contribute to the establishment of biotechnology within our region, with much of this work being based upon patented work I completed while in graduate school.
First and foremost, never underestimate yourself or your abilities. Secondly, never discard the importance of even the most “trivial” -- everything in your environment, even what you perceive as a worthless course, contributes to the development of your mind and pathways of thinking. And finally, the investment you make in your education is something I believe you will never regret. Your education is one of the very few things in life that no one can take away from you.
Great things can be accomplished even at a small school.