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Puneetha Goli (left) poses next to her scientific poster with her summer research mentor Dr. Alexander Prokhorov (right) at the MD Anderson Summer Experience Final Event.
This summer, I had the unique opportunity to partake in a research internship at MD Anderson Cancer Center where I spent 10 weeks on a cancer prevention team studying nicotine addiction in children and the other effects of this chemical on brain development. Working under the mentorship of Dr. Alexander Prokhorov and other highly educated employees in this world-renowned cancer center has truly opened my eyes to a new side of science.
My journey to make a difference in my community, however, started months before I was offered this opportunity. Through my project Students Against Vapes, I made it my mission to educate students about the dangers of tobacco in order to deter them from using such products. In addition to leading grade-wide presentations, I used my campaign to present in front of the mayor and the Houston city council to propose a city ordinance to increase the age to vape from 18 to 21 years old.
I wanted to make a true impact in my community, so when I was offered an intern position at MD Anderson to work on tobacco-related cancer prevention, it was an offer I simply couldn’t turn down.
The Village School Internship Coordinator Tekedra Pierre (left) poses with Puneetha Goli (right) at the Final Event.
Upon stepping foot on campus, I began to truly understand why MD Anderson was ranked as the best cancer care hospital in the nation. From the always-ready-to-help mentors to the opportunity to assist in cancer prevention projects, the summer never presented any dull moments.
The highlights of my summer included having my very own comic book (on the dangers of vaping) published for use by MD Anderson’s Behavioral Science Department as well as the opportunity to present my findings through a science poster at the Summer Experience Final Event Poster Session, presenting along nearly 250 other high school, undergraduate and graduate students. I was also selected as one of ten finalists in the Elevator Speech Competition, where I gave a 90-second speech to local medical professionals on the work I conducted during the summer.
Through working alongside leaders in science, my internship has further motivated me to pursue a career in medicine and research.