PRYDE's work creates an immediate impact
My first experience in research was working in a biomedical engineering lab in the basement of Clark Hall at Cornell. I worked about eight hours every day for an entire summer extracting plasma from blood samples and running several tests on the extracted plasma. The goal of the research was to design a point-of-care blood-testing device. It was a typical research experience; I wore a white coat and gloves and had little contact with anyone besides my lab mates until it was time to go home.
Although I gained a lot from the experience, I felt impatient with the idea of waiting several years before I could see the impact my work would have on improving someone’s life. I decided to leave biomedical engineering in search of a research opportunity where the work could be more immediately useful. With this in mind, I applied to the PRYDE Scholars program, excited about the prospect of learning more about translational methodologies that bridge the gap between research and practice. More importantly, I was attracted to PRYDE because it focuses on the application of research to positive youth development through involvement with 4-H.
Throughout my time as a PRYDE Scholar, I’ve come to learn and appreciate the work of 4-H and have seen the potential 4-H has to inspire a sense of purpose in its participating youth. This was especially true when two cohorts of PRYDE scholars went on a field trip in August to the New York State Fair, where 4-H youth from several counties presented their award-winning projects, including raising farm animals, creating virtual worlds, training dogs, and building robots. It was amazing to see the dedication 4-H youth have to their craft and how 4-H has helped them develop into confident and mature youth who are becoming young experts. Being able to experience and witness the impact 4-H has firsthand makes it even more exciting to be able a part of PRYDE, where we have the opportunity to collaborate with 4-H.
Now in my second year with PRYDE, I’m excited to work on a project in collaboration with 4-H practitioners to design an evaluative tool that will inform practitioners of how their programs are influencing positive youth development as well as inform funders of the value of the 4-H mission. We are being given the opportunity to showcase the skills we’ve learned as researchers to create a translational project that will directly benefit 4-H.
My own interests lie in adolescent health and after my undergraduate career at Cornell, I hope to continue my education through graduate school and to take with me the research and community engagement skills I have gained as being part of PRYDE. As an aspiring academic researcher, I intend to continue practicing translational research in the hopes of creating effective interventions based on evidence and community input that will improve the health of marginalized youth. Although I am no longer wearing a white coat, I am still a researcher, still looking for answers to questions that I hope will improve youth development.