Remembering D-Day

Remembering D-Day

Ava Kotsen (V)

June 6, 2019 was a lot of things. For many students and faculty at Pingry, it marked the final day of the school year, and the beginning of summer. It also marked the 75th anniversary of the Allied Powers’ Normandy invasion and the battle that ensued––an event more commonly referred to as “D-Day.”

A memorial took place in Normandy, and leaders such as Queen Elizabeth of United Kingdom, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian President Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump, and the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, attended. These world leaders came together to remember the day that 156,000 Allied troops, 73,000 of whom were American, stormed Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword, and Juno beaches along the coast of northern France to begin the major Allied invasion of German-occupied country, ultimately leading to the end of the war.

Many historians argue that this was the single most influential battle that ended World War II and Nazi control in Europe. Of course, this victory came at a hefty price––thousands of brave men were mercilessly slaughtered in an attempt to restore freedom to the shores. The waters of the Omaha were tainted red with their blood. The beach sands contained their torn limbs. The seabeds hold the wrecks of many amphibious tanks that never made it to land and the bodies of soldiers who drowned due to the weight of their gear.

During the summer, I had the opportunity to visit Omaha and Utah beaches as well as the United States Cemetery. When I visited Normandy in August, over seventy five years after D-Day, I was looking back on the shores where this very scene had taken place. No signs remained of the brutal battles that had occurred there. Normandy is now known as the most popular vacation beach in northern Europe, a title that it regained when the war ended. Upon my arrival, I was almost horrified to find children laughing and playing in the sand, splashing in the water. Dogs dashed across in long strides, barking contently. Folks socialized and enjoyed themselves. How could all of these people do this knowing what had happened there? Where has it all gone? Massive craters lay in the ground where bombs had exploded, and here and there were a few German bunkers that were still in working order.

I went to the cemetery that held the US soldiers who died overseas in the invasion of Europe during WWII. There was a walkway with a little platform overlooking Omaha beach. People were moving around, talking, laughing, smiling, and snapping photos. They were so light and carefree. I walked to the platform, and looked down through the green and grass-filled hill that led to the water. I went into a state of calm and silence, away from the rest of the world. I just stood there and stared at the ocean. I could hear the waves rolling on the beach.

Somehow, I could sense the spirits of the thousands of the heroic men who had died here. I could feel the presence of each one buried here. I could hear their silent weeping, their endless pain and the suffering that they had endured, the gruesome memories that they carried with them. Each one of them are my brothers, fellow Americans, and I carried their grief with them. I began to cry and weep with them. That day, I was able to see something powerful––the eternal spirit of America’s “greatest generation.” The souls of the warriors who will never forget the events of June 6, 1944, and WWII.

After visiting the cemetery, we returned to the edge, the final stretch, of Omaha beach. There was a sculpture called “Les Braves” (The Brave) built into the sand, facing the ocean. It was midday, not yet low tide, and still the strip of sandy beach extended a good distance outward. I slowly walked through the sand, to the approaching waves. I touched my hand to the cold water. I carefully took an empty water bottle and filled it. Within assorted shampoo bottles, I smuggled this water back home to me upon my return. To me, this water symbolizes the selfless sacrifice that thousands of courageous and bold young soldiers made for American freedom.

Even today, 75 years after the event, I honor the men who lost their lives in the historic D-Day invasion.


The Sophomores Visit NYC

The Sophomores Visit NYC

Katherine Xie (IV)

On Wednesday, September 4, the class of 2022 explored the exhibits of New York City’s Museum of Natural History and went to see the award-winning “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Broadway. 

The day began in the school cafeteria where students caught up with friends after a fleeting three months of summer break. The sophomores then crowded onto three buses to make the trip to the city. After an hour-and-a-half bus ride, everyone divided into their advisories and entered the Museum of Natural History. 

Upon entering the museum, advisory groups went their separate ways to tour the various exhibits and displays. Since there was no specific activity planned for the museum, each advisory had the liberty to choose the exhibits they wanted to see. The Museum of Natural History had everything from displays of prehistoric animals to diagrams of the early universe to exhibits on early civilizations. Although students only spent a little over an hour at the museum, Anika Govil (IV) says, “Visiting the museum was a really fun experience. I got to spend time with my advisory and learn about animals that I didn’t even know existed.” Students were able to learn about all things history as well as enjoy time with their advisories.

After a quick lunch outside the museum, the buses started up once more and took the sophomores to see “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Students were given tickets as they entered the packed theater and sat with their advisories as they awaited the start. 

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” based on the eponymous 1960 novel by Harper Lee, deals with racial issues prevalent in Alabama during the 1930s. The story’s main focus is the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man who is falsely accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. 

While the book begins by depicting the idyllic childhood of characters Jem, Scout, and Dill, the play, narrated by the children, immediately jumps into the trial of Tom Robinson. Atticus Finch (played by Jeff Daniels), Tom Robinson’s lawyer, must stand up to the racial prejudices of that time to do what is right. Through the trial, Scout learns about what it means to become an adult—she observes her father doing the right thing by defending Tom Robinson, despite the sacrifice he makes to do so. 

The students enjoyed the play, which provided a different and new portrayal of this well-known classic. Many students had never seen a Broadway show before and appreciated the opportunity. Zoe Wang (IV) said, “Going to see ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was truly memorable. The actor for Atticus Finch was just amazing.” Remarking on the interesting style of the play, Olivia Hung (IV) noted, “I truly enjoyed the show…It was an interesting way to tell the story.” 

After the performance and an amazing day spent in the city, the sophomores boarded the buses to head back to Pingry.

Head of School Mr. Matt Levinson Emphasizes Community and the Student Experience

Head of School Mr. Matt Levinson Emphasizes Community and the Student Experience

Eva Schiller (V), Vicky Gu (VI), Meghan Durkin (V)

Though the Pingry community has known his name for almost a year now, Mr. Matt Levinson has just begun his first academic year as our new Head of School. Following a five-month search and a unanimous vote from the Board of Trustees, Pingry officially welcomed its sixteenth Head of School on July 1, 2019, succeeding Mr. Nathaniel Conard’s 14-year tenure as Headmaster.

The role of the Head of School has long been ambiguous to many Pingry students. Mr. Levinson explains his job as keeping “everybody focused on the student experience… from myself, to all administration, staff, and teachers,” and that “every day is different. There are a lot of interesting challenges that cross my desk, problems to solve.” He remarked, “But also, being out in the community, being out in classes, being out at games, is really important.”   

When asked what drew him to Pingry, Mr. Levinson immediately responded, “the Honor Code was a first appeal… The trust that’s inherent in having an Honor Code is really meaningful to me.” Pingry’s inclusive atmosphere was also attractive. “Commitment to diversity and inclusion is really important to me, personally and professionally,” he says, adding, “I’ve been really struck and impressed by Pingry’s diversity and how it strengthens and enriches the community.” 

Beginning his career teaching both middle and high school students, Mr. Levinson has stepped into many roles within school communities, whether that be coaching sports or serving as a dean of students. He believes that his experience allows him to “understand everything that goes into running a big organization like Pingry.”

Despite his extensive experience with education, he confessed that in high school, he was not always “as engaged as [he] should’ve or could have been, but something just kind of kicked in senior year and a couple teachers really inspired [him].” During his time at Pingry so far, he has noticed “how much [the teachers] are inspiring to you all.”

When asked about his vision for Pingry, Mr. Levinson left his response open-ended. Rather than only him deciding where Pingry should go in the upcoming years, he thinks that everyone should have input and “that the vision question is something we all need to invest in and work on together.” However, he does have a “strategic plan focusing on global education, student wellbeing, interdisciplinary learning… and also to promote teacher growth and development.”

His first step is to address student wellbeing with the hopes of helping the community “improve and be attentive.” So far, he has met with peer leaders and teachers, and plans to do some staff training in November.

Speaking on the Pingry community, Mr. Levinson noted that “everyone’s been incredibly welcoming, which has been wonderful.” He has visited classes on both campuses and gone to games in order “to get the chance to see the student experience.” What amazed him since his arrival was the “long history of people who invest their lives here. I think everyone here is trying to always get better, no one’s standing still, which I love about the community”.

Mr. Levinson also revealed that the process for getting “Shorts Days” begins with students. A student emailed him one evening asking to allow shorts the next day, and by the end of the night, Mr. Levinson had confirmed one.  “I know,” he says, “on a hot day, when there’s no air conditioning, it’s nice to be able to wear shorts.”

Speaking of air conditioning, will Pingry ever get it? “That’s a big question I’m hearing; lots of people want to talk about that, but I don’t have an answer to that yet. It could happen. I don’t know when, but I know it’s something that people, especially in the 90-degree weather, are very interested in.” Perhaps someday.

Mr. Levison concluded, “I would just like to say I’ve been so impressed with the students in this school. The engagement in the classes that I’ve seen, from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade, makes it clear that the kids here really like learning and want to learn, and the teachers are really invested in making that happen.”

The Incredible Middle School Trips

The Incredible Middle School Trips

Alex Wong (I)

From September 25th to 27th, Middle School students embarked on trips to destinations ranging from the nation’s capital to right here in New Jersey. In the process, students were able to get a glimpse into what they will learn this year

Grade six traveled to Camp Mason, a campsite in northern New Jersey, for three days. There, they engaged in team building activities, including hiking, swinging on giant swings,  looking at nature art, and completing an obstacle course. These activities allowed the sixth graders to get to know each other better. Mrs. Nicole Cabral recalled, “We had a great time even though it rained. Even when it rained everyone participated in the activities. We made great memories during the trip.” The trip was an exciting and memorable start to their middle school experience.

Form I went to Philadelphia from September 26th to 27th. They visited many sites and interactive centers, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, the Philadelphia Zoo, the U.S. Mint, and The Franklin Institute. Students saw a wide variety of exhibits relating to topics ranging from the United States government to the human heart. Ben Chung (I) said, “The Brain Exhibit in the Franklin Institute was fun. My advisory played tag in the brain model.” Ms. Cecily Moyer noted, “I really enjoyed the Constitution Center. My advisory was very into the exhibits there. We played trivia and shook hands with the statues in Signers’ Hall.” The Philadelphia trip was an enjoyable, informative experience for the seventh grade. 

For three days, Form II stayed in Washington, D.C., where they saw the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Arlington National Cemetery, and the National Mall. Visiting the sites helped students gain a better understanding of their historical significance. Along with learning about the various monuments and memorials, Charlotte Diemar (II) said, “I enjoyed the trip because we got to connect more with our advisory via multiple activities, such as the advisory dinner.” On the trip, students bonded with both old and new friends, while learning about the rich history of Washington,  D.C.

The Middle Schoolers enjoyed their trips, as they made new friends, learned about historical sites and figures, or simply had fun with their classmates and teachers. In other words, the trips certainly set a positive tone for the year ahead.

Form V Floats into the School Year

Form V Floats into the School Year

Dean Koenig (V)

The Form V class spent their opening to the school year at the Lehigh River to go whitewater rafting. Since the junior class traveled to Philadelphia in previous years for their back-to-school trips, this trip was a surprise to students.

The grade was reunited from summer break at 8:30 A.M. in the dining center. From there, the students split into their advisory groups and boarded coach buses. When the buses arrived at the site, students got off and ate their packaged lunches on picnic tables, already surrounded by nature. As they ate, the juniors shared stories of their summers and discussed the upcoming school year.

After lunch, students and faculty listened in on a brief presentation given by the Pocono Whitewater Company. The presentation laid down guidelines for the experience to come, such as safety regulations and paddling recommendations. During the lecture, students and faculty were fitted for lifejackets.

Once everyone was ready to raft, students boarded buses once again and were driven to the river. Although the original plan was for advisory groups to raft together, students were able to join the raft they wished to be in as long as there were no more than seven people in it. Each raft was provided with a bucket, which was supposed to be used to remove water from the raft.

Aided by river guides, students and faculty began to make their way down the river. Soon enough, the rafts encountered the first wave of class II rapids. Students and faculty soon got splashed, or even submerged.

Along the way down the river, the river guides offered the rafters three opportunities to exit their rafts and swim in shallow water. During this time, students had fun in the water, splashing each other and climbing into other boats with their friends. “The battles between the raft crews on the river were epic,” Dr. James Murray said. Even some river guides got in on the action. Ethan Mannello (V) said, “The most fun part of the rafting was probably splashing people with buckets of water.”

Though the students enjoyed themselves, paddling took a great deal of energy and most were ready to head home by the time the rafting was over. Students and faculty were bussed back to the lunch location to retrieve their belongings before the coach busses took them back to school. The buses arrived at Pingry at around 7:00 P.M.

Sandy Friedman (V) remarked, “The retreat made me feel closer to a lot of my classmates.” 

Overall, it was an exciting way for students to reconvene before classes began.

Predicaments in Camp Counselling

By Chase Barnes ’21

There were many constants for me this summer. Begrudgingly rolling out of bed every day at 6 AM, relentless heat and humidity, crazy parents, and, of course, children. This summer, for seven weeks, I was a camp counselor at a local YMCA. Reflecting on my experience, I think about all the times I complained and how close I was to quitting after three weeks. It was a lot of responsibility and repetition mixed with some stressful unpredictability, and at some points I just couldn’t take it. At the same time, I honestly cannot put into words how amazing it was to have so many positive, and sometimes quite strange, interactions with parents and kids over the course of those seven weeks. Some of those experiences were so crazy that you wouldn’t even believe me. Just trust me on this one; I have quite some stories to tell from that camp.

And while there were both highs and lows, I learned a lot about myself as well as about working with other people. I feel that I have become more proactive, flexible, and patient. One day it would be sunny all day, and then at noon it would start pouring, so we had to spontaneously figure out what activities to do next. Day by day, situation by situation, we had a responsibility to continue the fun for the kids. I guess this is a good transition into the rather poor management of the camp itself. From what I heard from returning counselors, there was really no organization and activities were not thought out very well. Luckily, the kids didn’t notice, but there were times during the day when we, the counselors, literally had nothing to do with the kids. We would have to make up a game or find another activity to do because we weren’t provided with a great schedule or alternative activities. For example, one of the themes of the summer was STEM, and every Wednesday we were supposed to do some science-related arts and crafts.  By that I mean we did one arts and crafts project the first week, and the rest of camp there was no activity.

It all cycled back to a lack of proactiveness, considering that what we did do instead was go to the playground for three hours and watch the kids tire themselves out until it was time to go home. Another day, one of my campers was stung by a bee and while she was screaming and crying the other campers were crowding around us and jumping around yelling, “Chase, Chase, Chase.” I had to deal with all of the kids as well as write an incident report, call a parent, and take the stinger out of her leg.

This was one of the many challenging situations I faced at the camp, but of course, everything worked out in the end. I learned quite a lot and wouldn’t change it for anything. I made a lot of friends, met a lot of great kids, and went to places I’ve never been. For that, I can say it was a good experience.

The Personal Development of a Campaign Intern

The Personal Development of a Campaign Intern

By Noah Bergam ’21

In the last few weeks of summer, as bored as anyone on a lazy August afternoon might be, I decided to intern at my local Democratic congressional campaign.

In some ways, I felt pressured; my parents kept telling me I should try something new – something that was not about technology or robotics. I was hesitant at first, although deep down I felt that taking a break from my tech-oriented agenda would be good for me. I have always had an interest in politics, which had thus far only manifested itself in reading news on my phone. I decided to take that a step further.

Ironically enough, upon starting my internship, I felt more robotic than I had ever before. Upon my entrance into the paper, poster, and map-ridden headquarters, barely welcomed and surrounded by strangers who seemed to know exactly what they were doing, I was immediately tasked with three and a half hours of phone banking.

Without knowing much of my candidate’s policies aside from the fact that he was a Democrat, I was responsible for calling lists of possible voters (most of whom did not pick up), and convincing them to vote for Tom Malinowski. I was equipped with a script, mediocre conversational skills, and a roughly ten-minute training.

It was a humbling experience. I had always seen politics as something uplifting, something active that puts you in the news and brings about change in society. However, I had somehow found myself here, on the bottom of the campaign staff hierarchy, making calls to convince people to vote for a man I had never met, who I supported (at least in the beginning) solely due to a (relatively weak) party affiliation.

Call after call (and house after house, when we went into the real world for canvassing), I discovered so many different people and reactions. I proved to myself the importance of slow and clear speaking, welcoming body language, and smiling and staying optimistic even when faced with challenging reactions.

I also spent time during my lunch breaks learning more about my candidate’s politics through online articles and conversations with fellow interns. In doing so, I came to better appreciate the cause for which I was fighting. I was more determined accomplish my task of contacting voters. I might not be Tom Malinowski, but I could still appreciate the fact that my work might make a difference in who represents my congressional district next year. And if not, so be it. I would still get so much more out of the experience than that.

Calls and canvases became personal endeavors; I was no longer a robot, but a dedicated person trying to respectfully convince others of my beliefs. That is a skill that I appreciate developing– making a difference in the world means changing minds, little by little, and this internship was just the beginning.

As I continue to volunteer with the campaign, I am more than ever glad that I took the chance apply myself to it in the first place. I feel that my work is rewarding, not only because Tom Malinowski may win a spot in Congress this November, but because of my own personal confidence, rhetoric, and knowledge of American politics have benefitted.

If I learned one thing with the campaign, it’s there’s always more to discover once you leave your comfort zone. I was able to pick up on skills that I now know I was lacking in the past because I dove into my personal unknown.

Drzala Takes On Appendicitis

Drzala Takes On Appendicitis

By Lauren Drzala ’21

July 23, 2018 will be a day I will always remember. After finishing my lunch for the day, I began to feel sharp pains in my stomach and immediately thought – “this is very unusual for me.” Hours passed and the pain just kept getting worse. I was becoming desperate and anxiety crept in, so naturally, I turned to Google for some reliable advice on a homemade remedy. Long story short, the apple cider vinegar nor the lemon juice with ginger did my stomach any justice. I decided to call a friend, willing to try anything. She said that her mom usually gave her warm milk with turmeric. Immediately, I was a bit hesitant because I had no idea what turmeric would taste like. Looking back on it, I should have listened to my first instinct while I was chugging down a glass of that concoction. When I thought all hope was lost, I swallowed my pride and went to the people that I should have gone to in the very beginning: my parents. My dad gave me two Motrin and told me to wait. Nothing happened. My mom didn’t even believe that there was anything wrong with me, thinking I made the pain up. As I was counting down the hours to the never-ending day, my sister Emma approached my room, thinking she could give me some insight. “Hey Lauren, where is the pain, because it might be appendicitis.” I angrily responded, “Go away, Emma. It’s not appendicitis. It isn’t that bad.” Something actually being wrong with me was the last thing on my mind. In the end, I decided the best thing to do was to go to sleep and wait for the pain to subside.

At 2 a.m., I woke up to what felt like someone stabbing me in the stomach.  Immediately, I went to my parents, knowing that there something was terribly wrong.  My dad, as any physician would do, asked me to describe the pain and its location. I pointed to my lower left abdomen. My mom suggested appendicitis, remarking that she had had it around my age. Once she said this, I was reminded of Emma’s earlier comment. I could just hear her saying that she was right over and over again in my head. We soon rushed to the hospital and waited until I was admitted to a room. The pain was in full force, as if there was a war going on in my stomach. Finally, the drugs that the nurse gave me kicked in. I was starting to feel a little better, and thought that this was all a mistake and that there was nothing wrong with me. After many hours of testing, nothing showed up – that is, until they tried a CAT scan.

Once the scan was complete, the nurse came back and said that it was, in fact, appendicitis. Sighing in dismay, I decided to accept my fate and prepared for the surgery. I was not on the list of surgeries that day so I did not know when I could get this little monster out of me. So, I decided to get comfortable and watch TV for the remainder of the time. I mainly enjoyed HGTV, talking to my mom about how the couples chose the wrong house. I do not think that she was as invested as I was, after seeing the concern on her face. Finally, the doctors came in and wheeled me into the operating room.

The doctors began to give me anesthesia. In about 10 seconds, I was out like a light. I woke up being wheeled back to my room and being set on my bed. “It’s over,” I thought. Wrong. The remainder of the night consisted of doctors coming in and out of my room every single hour, checking my heart beat and asking me how I was feeling. I can certainly say that that was the worst sleep I have ever had. The following morning the doctors finally said I could go home and told me that I couldn’t do any physical activity for a while. The next few weeks consisted of me lounging around, hunching down on my stomach so it wouldn’t hurt, and watching movie after movie, including the whole Harry Potter series. I think that we can all agree that Dolores Umbridge, the “Lady in Pink,” was a far worse threat to Harry Potter than Voldemort. Fast forward to August, and I was finally starting to feel like myself again. I wish that I could say that, at the end, I learned more about myself or that I am a changed person, but I am not. I am still the same Lauren, just minus an appendix.

New York Trip Provides an Exciting Start for Sophomores

New York Trip Provides an Exciting Start for Sophomores

By Zara Jacob ’21

The class of 2021 eased into their sophomore year with a trip to New York City, exploring exhibits in the Museum of Natural History and and seeing the Tony Award-winning “Best Musical,” Dear Evan Hansen.

With not a single textbook or laptop in hand, the grade split up onto four buses and headed on a 90-minute ride to the city. After reaching the museum, they were divided by advisories, perusing the various exhibits at the museum. Unlike previous years, when a scavenger hunt was assigned, the students had the freedom to pick which exhibits they wanted to visit with their advisories. Many of the students appreciated this change; Meghan Durkin (IV) explained, “I enjoyed the museum more than I anticipated because I got to see exhibits that I thought were interesting, as opposed to a plan created by our advisors.” From fossils to dioramas filled with cavemen, the first segment of the trip maintained a good balance of fun and education.

After eating lunch in the museum, the students made their way back to the buses and headed to the theater. Despite a slight accidental detour, all 150 sophomores eventually made it to the correct theater, where they watched the 2 o’clock showing of Dear Evan Hansen. As the students crowded up the stairs, many stopped for snacks, waiting anxiously for the musical to begin.

Dear Evan Hansen tackles themes of bullying, loneliness, and suicide — daunting topics that many teenagers face today. Sanjana Biswas (IV) said, “The musical was relevant to the modern times we live in, and the portrayal of social media and its platform was very accurate.”

The musical begins with showing two teenage boys who struggle with depression and anxiety. Evan, the protagonist of the musical, desperately seeks to step out of the shadows and be noticed. We see Evan’s yearning for true care and appreciation through the passionate performance of his song, “Waving Through a Window.” His mother, juggling school and work, struggles to be there for Evan, and his therapist suggests he write letters to himself to help his self-confidence (hence the name Dear Evan Hansen). The other teenage boy, Connor Murphy, is briefly introduced to the audience before committing suicide.

Through a series of unfortunate events, one of Evan’s letters to himself, which discusses his troubling thoughts and anxieties, is with Connor on the day he commits suicide, and is misconstrued as Connor’s last words being addressed to Evan. Stuck in an impossible situation, Evan hopes for everything to blow over, but ends up meeting with Connor’s family almost every day and pretends to have known Connor as a best friend. All of Evan’s dreams begin to come true – he lands the girl of his dreams, feels the warmth of a loving, present family, and becomes famous on social media. To know how Evan fares throughout the rest of the musical, you will have to go and see it. From the actors to the captivating music, it is no wonder that Dear Evan Hansen has won so many awards.

After the show, the sophomores headed back to Pingry, their first day of school having come to an end.

Insight into being a Medical Doctor

Insight into being a Medical Doctor

By Anjali Kapoor ’20

I’ve always wanted to follow in my uncle’s footsteps and become a doctor. My uncle is an orthopedic surgeon with his own hospital in India and I was always mesmerized by the dozens of patients and doctors swarming the halls. While I knew that I liked and excelled in biology, and it’s always been my childhood dream to study medicine, I didn’t exactly know what being a doctor entailed. This summer, I set out to learn more about the field – I was going to conduct hands-on research and shadow doctors.

For the first half of the summer, I worked in Dr. Pandey’s lab at Rutgers University researching Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and is spread through contaminated blood. It is the leading cause for hepatocellular carcinoma, a common form of liver cancer. While vaccines exist for the related diseases Hepatitis A and B, there is no existing vaccine for Hepatitis C. In particular, Dr. Pandey’s lab was looking at the Fuse Binding Protein 1 (FBP1) and its interaction with the p53 tumor suppressor gene, an important gene that regulates the cell cycle. In previous research, Dr. Pandey found that the FBP1 inhibits the p53 gene by binding to some part of its DNA sequence and, when p53 is inhibited, the likelihood that a cancerous tumor forms increases. Based on that research, we were trying to determine the exact portion of the DNA sequence of the p53 gene that FBP1 binds to. Dr. Pandey’s plan to solve this consisted of cutting the DNA sequence into many different pieces and testing each piece to see if it would bind to FBP1, slowly narrowing the DNA sequence to find the exact base pairs that were binding to FBP1. My role in this project was preparing and testing one of these pieces of DNA to see if it would bind to FBP1. This involved cell cultures, transformations, restriction digests, and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. While I was not able to see the project through to completion, his doctoral candidates will continue the project and Dr. Pandey hopes to publish a paper on this research by November.

For the second half of the summer, I shadowed three different types of doctors: a general/vascular surgeon, a dermatologist, and a plastic surgeon. It was really interesting to learn about the three different careers, and from the doctor’s perspective rather than the patient’s. When I shadowed the general/vascular surgeon, I saw generally older patients with varicose veins, hernias, and gallstones. I learned about vein stripping procedures, angioplasties, and colonoscopies – it’s amazing how so many of these procedures can be done robotically! Next, I shadowed a dermatologist for a few days and saw people of all ages with dozens of skin issues ranging from common acne to severe skin cancers. I also was able to watch multiple skin cancer surgeries (I definitely learned the importance of sunscreen!) and got to cut my first stitch. He also showed me cosmetic procedures such as how to inject botox and fillers, along with how a new machine trims fat. Lastly, I shadowed a plastic surgeon who focuses on hand reconstructions. I saw many people who had sliced their hand or gotten it stuck in a door and required surgery. All three doctors were very encouraging and gave me advice on how to choose a field and pursue medicine.

Overall, both research and shadowing were great experiences that helped me gain exposure into the world of biology and medicine. It was especially interesting as I got to see both sides of medicine: the scientists doing the early cell research and the doctors treating the diseases based on what the scientists find. While it’s clear becoming a doctor will take many years of studying, learning more about the field and their day-to-day lives has only strengthened my resolve to someday join their profession!