As summer begins, books get shelved and schools close, but for many teens and young adults, leaving the classroom doesn’t mean learning stops. On the contrary, they pursue internships that allow them to advance their education in a hands-on way, often taking steps toward a career.
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, along with other research organizations around the Torrey Pines Mesa in La Jolla, opens its doors to a large number of interns every summer. The enthusiastic voices of young people, some making their own scientific discoveries for the first time, emanate through the hallways, reminding everyone how exciting science can be.
Among this year’s interns will be 11 promising high school juniors from The Preuss School UCSD, recently named the #1 Transformative High School in the nation by Newsweek. This annual program offers students the opportunity to work in a different laboratory each day for four days.
This year’s students hail from Mira Mesa, City Heights, Linda Vista, and other San Diego neighborhoods. Some participants from past years have returned to the Institute for longer, more in-depth internships, and many have gone on to study at prestigious universities like Harvard, Yale, and Duke.
Mustafa Malik, who completed the Preuss School UCSD internship program in 2010, said, “I was fascinated by the research and possible career avenues that were presented to us interns, but what really made the experience so enjoyable was the people. They were so welcoming, insightful, and overall interesting people to listen to and it was the Sanford-Burnham staff that made the internship a memorable one.”
Other interns have already achieved great things in their education before seeking to deepen their knowledge in a specific area at Sanford-Burnham. Adalai Martinez, a recent graduate in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University, will begin an internship in the lab of John C. Reed, M.D., Ph.D., in late August. She plans to continue to medical school, specializing in pediatric oncology or pediatric neurology.
She says, “I conducted research as an undergraduate, but my research was predominately clinical. I hope that this experience will give me a new perspective on neuroscience research. I am very excited to be working in Dr. Reed's lab. His line of research is fascinating. I hope to be an integral part of the research project I am assigned to.”
Internships can make a lasting impression. Nicole Remsburg, who recently graduated as salutatorian from San Diego’s Mission Bay High School, credits her choice of college major to her time interning at Sanford-Burnham. She will be studying cellular, molecular, and developmental biology at University of California, Los Angeles beginning this fall.
Tony Chau, who participated in the Preuss School UCSD program a few years ago said, “The people I met and the experiences I had will stay with me throughout my career.”