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PDBIO Student Makes Valuable Connections on Premed Research Internship at Stanford

"We have students who are impressive and capable, but they just need an opportunity." - Dr. Joshua Jaramillo, internship coordinator

The value of participating in an internship is obvious. It’s knowing where and how to start that poses a challenge, especially for students in premed programs. This is why, BYU alumnus, Dr. Joshua Jaramillo started the Premed Research Internship at Harvard/Stanford/Utah, which provides BYU students with the opportunity to conduct research with medical faculty from Harvard, Stanford, or the University of Utah.

Yeram Park, a senior studying physiology and developmental biology in the College of Life Sciences, already had an internship lined up when she saw a poster advertising the Premed Research Internship. She wasn’t sure what it entailed, but was interested in learning more. After contacting Jaramillo directly, Park decided that the combination of research opportunities and connections to various medical professionals was something she didn’t want to pass up.

Yeram Park, a senior studying PDBIO, interned at Stanford University this past summer.
Photo by Lance Good

After being selected to participate in the program, Park traveled to California and spent 10 weeks working as a research assistant with Dr. Irene Wapnir, a breast cancer oncologist, at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Cancer Institute. Park’s internship project focused on patients who had been diagnosed with a Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) tumor, a non-invasive breast cancer. However, a DCIS diagnosis can result in an increased risk of developing an invasive breast cancer in the future. Based on this risk, Park assisted in creating a database for analysis to better understand DCIS and patterns of recurrence.

In addition to her research with Wapnir, Park was able to make valuable connections with BYU alumni and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; another integral aspect of the internship program.

“As a BYU student, it was an incredible opportunity to meet other doctors and successful professionals who are able to proudly represent themselves as members of the Church in these rigorous work-settings,” Park says. “It was amazing to see how these doctors really valued and loved their patients. The passion and commitment they showed for their work was truly inspiring.”

It is no secret that the doctors and professionals at universities like Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Utah have demanding schedules. Yet, many BYU alumni working in the medical field take the time to give back and provide premed students with valuable mentorship.

BYU alumnus, Norman Taylor currently works in the department of anesthesiology at the University of Utah. His medical education took him to the Medical College of Wisconsin and residency through Harvard at the Massachusetts General Hospital. When Taylor was a student applying to medical schools, he shared that it was difficult because he didn’t have a mentor who could answer his questions and guide him through the application process. He sees working with BYU premed students as an opportunity to provide the mentorship he wishes he had received as an undergraduate.

“I felt like if there was any way for me to give back, give the mentorship that I didn’t have, I wanted to be there,” says Taylor. “Giving back is very fulfilling, more fulfilling than I thought.”

Taylor further expressed that the importance of timing in getting key experiences can’t be overstated. This proved true in Park’s case. Her internship experience at Stanford allowed her to learn, grow, and make valuable connections that she wouldn’t have made elsewhere.

“After my summer here, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more confident about my career path,” Park says. “This is due to the mentors who showed that they really believed in me and what I had to offer.”