Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Texas Medical Center internship welcomes juniors

On Sunday, Nov. 12, Augustana held an information session and application workshop to inform potential applicants about the Texas Medical Center Summer Research Internship Program (TMC-SRIP). The TMC-SRIP is open for Augustana juniors to apply, and many Augustana students over the years have participated in the program, opening the door to future career connections in the field. 

The TMC-SRIP internship is a paid, full-time 10-week internship held over the summer for students completing their junior year. This internship takes place in Houston, at the Texas Medical Center.

Though this internship takes place at a medical facility, students of all majors are encouraged to apply. Heidi Storl, a philosophy professor and Augustana’s director of the TMC-SRIP, said she believes in the importance of this internship.

“It is to give them a sense of the career move they might make,” Storl said. “But it’s also to gain experience in the number one ranked World Medical Center.”

Although Augustana offers many great resources, Nicholas Weilbaker, a senior majoring in biochemistry, said the internship in Houston offers some experiences Augustana does not have.

“We don’t have the research facilities to be able to do a lot of things that certain biochemists would want to do,” Weilbaker said. “But if you go to Texas Medical Center down in Houston, Texas, you are in like the top-of-the-line research facilities.”

Through the internship program, Weilbaker was able to pursue his passion in a Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) research lab that focused on gene engineering and its possible impacts on brain cancer.

Similarly, Ella Aldridge, an alumna of Augustana currently working on her master’s degree in speech-language pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was able to explore her passion in the professional atmosphere while at Houston. 

“It was special to see how science is actually implemented into a real-world setting,” Aldridge said. “I feel like we forget so many times that researchers really are doing things for the betterment of society.”

Storl said that every student can benefit from the internship program.

“They’re guaranteed a letter of recommendation from a nationally or internationally known mentor,” Storl said. “I think that letter of recommendation is key to opening up doors that otherwise would not have been opened.”

This was the case for Aldridge, who was able to go to her dream graduate school. According to Aldridge, she attributes much of this success to her internship at the Texas Medical Center.

However, this program doesn’t simply work to aid students with their academic passions. According to Storl, it helps to develop essential professional and social skills. The Texas Medical Center offers lunchtime seminars that focus on professional skill development. One of these skills is a professional elevator pitch.

In his experience at the Texas Medical Center internship, Weilbaker made it to the finals in an elevator pitch competition.

“Everyone was very encouraging,” Weilbaker said. “They would give constructive criticism. That really helped me excel.”

Aldridge also said she experienced lots of  personal growth from this internship.

“I came back a different person, for sure,” Aldridge said. “I learned a lot about myself, but also I learned a lot about my field, and it showed me what direction I wanted my future to go in.”

To prepare students for this program, Storl organizes lectures, including the one held Nov. 12, to demonstrate an atmosphere the students could be going into. 

“Be willing to explore because you’re put in the world’s largest medical center. There are over like 100,000 faculty there,” said Storl. “There are over a million patients. There are 50 institutions involved… I would encourage students to apply who have that kind of curiosity and drive.”

More information on TMC-SRIP can be found on the Augustana website. The application will be due Dec. 1.

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