Category Archives: Project L/EARN

Aug 21 2012
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Project L/EARN: Graduates Reflect

Project L/EARN is an intensive, 10-week summer internship for undergraduate college students who are from socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in graduate education. The program, funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides students with training, experience and mentoring to make them stronger candidates for admission to graduate programs. Interns attend lecture sessions, complete Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) preparation, and work with mentors to write a research paper, which they present as a poster. This year’s program was held at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University. This is part of a series of posts where scholars who completed the program discuss the experience. Learn more about Project L/EARN.

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Thomasina Anane
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
Rising junior at Johns Hopkins University
Major: Public Health / Sociology
Internship Research Project: Goal-Striving Stress & Mental Health: Race and SES Variations

Human Capital Blog: Are there any insights about your Project L/EARN experience you’d like to share?

Thomasina Anane: Project L/EARN taught me two things. One: stop procrastinating and learn better time management skills and two: Project L/EARN is a lot like a 9 to 5. You can equate it to a work day. Having to wake up on time every day to be here has taught me the importance of how you present yourself as a professional who’s confident in what she’s doing. Just knowing what you’re doing and how people perceive you and your work. It’s added a sense of rigor to what I do. I’m definitely taking what I’m doing seriously. Project L/EARN has taught me the importance of what all this education means. In the future, being able to use what we learned and be confident and becoming the career person you want to be now. And I appreciate Project L/EARN for that.

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Aug 14 2012
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Project L/EARN: Graduates Reflect

Project L/EARN is an intensive, 10-week summer internship for undergraduate college students who are from socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in graduate education. The program, funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides students with training, experience and mentoring to make them stronger candidates for admission to graduate programs. Interns attend lecture sessions, complete Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) preparation, and work with mentors to write a research paper, which they present as a poster. This year’s program was held at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University.This is the first in a series of posts where scholars who completed the program discuss the experience. Learn more about Project L/EARN.

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Symonne Kennedy
Hometown: Teaneck, NJ
Rising senior at Rutgers University
Major: Psychology
Internship Research Project: The Association between Prenatal Substance Exposure and Adolescent Emotional Competence

Human Capital Blog: What’s the most surprising thing you learned during internship?

Symonne Kennedy: The most surprising thing I’ve learned in Project L/EARN is the sheer extent of the amount of work that goes into a research project and the amount of statistics it takes to do it. I’ve taken advanced research statistics, so I thought I was “big man on campus.” But no, there’s so much more to learn, and I haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg.

HCB: Are there any insights about your Project L/EARN experience you’d like to share?

Kennedy: The program is really tough, it is a grueling program. They said that beforehand – it’s going to be difficult, it’s an intensive 10-week research program, and that’s exactly what it is. They said you’re not going to believe us, but when you start going through you start to feel it. For future Project L/EARN students it’s important to know that it is a lot of work but it’s very doable. The program is good preparation for what grad school’s really going to be like. It’s tough but you just have to put your mind to it. It’s very accessible, you can do it.

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Nov 15 2011
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An Aspiring Doctor Finds Someone to Show Her the Way to Medical School... and Gives Back

Danielle Wright, a 2005 alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Project L/EARN program, is now working toward her MD and MPH. Here she offers her perspective on the need to help a diverse range of students succeed in medical school.

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I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in middle school. There were no doctors in my family or physician mentors available to me in those years, but that didn’t matter to me. By the time I was in college, I figured I was good to go. I was headed to medical school to become an obstetrician. I knew I had to take specific science classes, take the MCATs, get letters of recommendation and maybe even do some summer programs—no problem. It wasn’t until I actually started preparing my application, around my junior year, that I realized I was lost. I knew what to do, but I didn’t really know how to do it. I was overwhelmed by the number of applications, appointments and forms. I quickly discovered that there were a lot of potential pitfalls in the medical school application process.

Getting into medical school is difficult for even the most capable applicant, regardless of background. But, the process becomes even more challenging if you are a member of a group traditionally underrepresented in the medical profession. Not because there is anything different about you as a potential student, but because not that long ago, medicine was a closed, elite club. That means that if you hit a wall in the application or academic process and begin looking for that trusted role model, mentor or advocate, there’s seldom anyone there to show you the way.

Fortunately, as an undergraduate student at Rutgers University, I found ODASIS—Office for Diversity and Academic Success in the Sciences—a program for minority students interested in the health professions. ODASIS not only provided the guidance I needed to apply to medical school, but advice on how to succeed in my career. Next, I participated in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Project L/EARN. The program was very important to me for two reasons. First, I was introduced to medical research and public health and I realized I loved them both. After the program, I changed my major from biology to public health and decided I wanted to become a researcher as well as a clinician. In addition, I had no idea that questions about conducting medical research would come up in my medical school interviews, but they did. Thanks to Project L/EARN, I was prepared and a stronger applicant than I would have been without participating.

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