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Keon Jones, a 2017-18 IN LSAMP Scholar at Indiana University South Bend was selected to attend the 2018 Diversity Visitation Event for Research and Graduate Education (DiVERGE) program held on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in January.
Keon shares his experience – While at the DiVERGE program we were able to meet with current graduate students in an informal setting for dinner. This experience helped me realize the people we aspire to be are no different from us and we too can achieve our goals. As STEM majors we are often cooped together and living in our own world. I invite you to take the time to interact with other people who have different interests than you. Through the interactions with the intellectual group invited to participate in DiVERGE, I came to the realization that I was there for a reason as well. I’ve worked hard with a passion to succeed and as I finish my degree strong, I feel like the fight is well worth it. Throughout my education, I struggled to understand some chemical concepts and I needed to strive to be better than myself and not others.
Keon shares how attending DiVERGE prepared him for his future career – My participation in DiVERGE allowed me to further explore my interests and gain a better understanding about graduate school. The interactions I had with current graduate students and faculty at The Scripps Research Institute showed me the determination it takes to be a scientist. I also learned communication skills will serve as an excellent asset throughout my career. As medicine advances, research needs to follow suit. Biomedicine is a revolutionary field so there are many questions yet to be answered.
Keon’s advice for students preparing for graduate school – Allowing yourself to have confidence and patience if you want to pursue a career in medical research. In order to answer the unknown, you’re going to incur a lot of failure on the path to success. Ultimately, research can be very rewarding if you are willing to persevere through the difficult times. When applying to graduate school your application is looked at as a whole, with research experience playing a critical role. Participation in research through your home school or REUs is essential. Many opportunities exist for undergraduates to explore different fields in STEM.
I recommend that students apply early and not be afraid to express your truth while writing your personal statement. You must decide for yourself what makes you interested in science. This program is designed to reach out to students with varying degrees of interests and research. For students who do not possess any prior research experience explain how a program like this may benefit you. Understanding the qualities of a researcher and demonstrating from personal experience skills such critical thinking, creativity, patience, and dedication will go a long way in your application.
Keon’s strategies for building a strong support network for your STEM career – As I continue with my studies as a biologist, I’ve learned that you must develop a breadth of knowledge and appreciation for other fields as well. Science has so many fields that are interconnected and one person simply cannot know it all, so collaboration with your colleagues can go a long way. Your curiosity should never peak as a scientist, there’s too many questions to answer! For my future STEM career, I hope to apply more communication skills in order to speak to the world about scientific research. In today’s world, it is no longer good enough to only be able to perform the science, you have to be able to talk about it and sell it as well.
Building a strong relationship with my professors throughout my education has always been critical in my development as a student. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Also, having a close network of friends to support and push me through the tough times has been helpful, surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed and believe in you is uplifting and motivating. Science is difficult and demanding, so I’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help.