Research is my life. I’m the kind of person who is never content with knowing that things work or don’t work. I need to know how and why they work or don’t work. Science research allows me the opportunity to answer these questions through experiments and data collection. My name is Sharita Hill. I am 27 years old and a mother of two wonderful children. I am also a Biology Pre-med major at Ursuline. I will be starting my senior year in the Fall of 2013, but this blog is to talk about the amazing research opportunity that I received this summer.
It all started around February of this year. Professor Snyder, of Ursuline’s biology department sent out a mass email to all of her science students about summer internship opportunities at Case Western Reserve University. This immediately caught my attention because Case is a very well known research school, not to mention it is where I plan to earn my master’s degree. From the list I found the Minority HIV Research Training Program (MHRTP) through the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). I would be spending the whole summer working with a team of doctors dedicated to introducing advancements, both medical and holistic, in the effort to fight HIV and AIDS. It seemed like a dream come true. The only problem was that the deadline for the application was one week away.
I scrambled to put together all of the things that the application required of me, and enlisted the help of chemistry professor Dr. Preston and biology professor Snyder to write letters of recommendation for me. They were both willing and able to produce letters within 24 hours. I’m not quite sure what they wrote, but two months later I received an email from the MHRTP, informing me that I was the only applicant who had been accepted into the program.
On May 24 I was able to have a face to face meeting with my program mentor, Dr. Robert Salata. He is a Professor and Executive Vice-Chair of the Department of Medicine and the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine at CWRU. He is a fantastic mentor match for me. He is devoted to research and making a difference in the world. His research involves education and prevention techniques in order to prevent the spread of HIV. Using the prior education and prevention work that he has done in Uganda, he was able to design a very similar outreach program for a high risk HIV/ STI area here in Cleveland. The program is designed to target adolescents and teens. I was informed that I will be in charge of collecting statistical data concerning how informed teens are about safe sex practices and how their level of education contributes to the number of sexually transmitted infections (STI) within the community. I will also be leading classes to help teens make better informed choices about safe sex practices.
My first official day of work will begin on Wednesday May 29. I’m very excited to see what impact I can have on furthering the goals of this program. The staff has been so welcoming to me; I only hope that I can add more greatness to this already fantastic team.