Bacteriophages, microbiology, DNA, and morphology may seem like foreign terms, but to the Fab Four and other members of the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program, it is what their research consists of. Starting in May 2018, the National Institutes of Health paired Cumberland County College with Rowan University to allow students to get hands-on experience in the lab and in the field. This type of experience is valuable to students who are undergraduates. The four students, Cynthia Lascarez, Ana Cruz, Mariella Vasquez, and Shemaiah Sotrah are also members of the STEM Pathways program in addition to the Cumberland Bridge to Rowan.
STEM Pathways prepares its students for careers in STEM with experience as well as the counseling and advising. Cynthia Lascarez believes without the STEM program, she’d be very lost. It was through this program, they were introduced to Cumberland Bridge to Rowan.
At a community college level, this type of experience is beneficial, not only to their overall education but for future jobs. They are able to do undergrad research before reaching their junior year of college. These students feel confident enough to walk among other Rowan students and know they are capable of attending a four-year university. Shemaiah Sotrah proudly states, “You can be going to community college and still make it.”
The Cumberland Bridge to Rowan program provides advising to help the transition be even smoother. They aid in picking classes and providing contact with Rowan professors.
The research lab itself consists of multiple tests but the results are unknown. Maria states, “It’s exciting to see. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the end.” For example, they extract DNA from viruses and they often test the waters of Cumberland County. They hope to find and name one local to this area.
The next cohort of students have a lot to look forward to after the Fab Four leave their mark on the research labs of this community college.
By: Kynaat Moosvi, Class of 2019April 18, 2019