Past CTOSI participants

The CTOSI launched in 2022 with a cohort of 4 interns with a variety of interests and career goals. Learn more about the internship and each participant’s experience through the testimonials below.

2023 CTOSI participant - Avellaneda

Briza Avellaneda

Briza graduated from VCU this past May, 2023 with a major in Biology. She gained oncology experience through a position with the VCU Acute Care Oncology unit as a Patient Care Technician providing quality and compassionate patient care. Additionally, Briza is conducting research with Dr. Leon-Perez at VCU focusing on the under-represented community in Richmond and the different life experiences surrounding immigrants. Briza understands the importance of research and how it changes lives every day. In her personal statement she refers to Oncology as being very tough, yet it's a field worth fighting for. Upon completing the internship, Briza accepted a research role at Massey.

2023 CTOSI participant - Frijas

Emilio "EJ" Frijas

EJ recently graduated from Virginia Tech this past May 2023 with a minor in Biological Science - International Relations. He has gained research experience as a Research Assistant at the Virginia Tech College of Plant and Environmental Science. During this experience his primary focus was to determine how much nitrogen gets fixated throughout the legume plant species while using, as he described; top of the line technology in the lab. EJ hopes to find a career in the world of biology and research where he can make a difference by developing and researching new pharmaceuticals that are clean for our environment. He describes himself as being adaptable, responsible, organized, motivated, hard working, and detail-oriented.

2023 CTOSI participant - Smith

Kennedi Smith

Kennedi joins us as an Undergrad Sophomore at North Carolina A&T with a major in Biology. She has a strong passion for leadership in medicine and healthcare. Throughout her lab and lecture courses she has expanded upon her understanding of medicine and research. Her goal is to become a doctor where she can work for social justice while helping people live healthy and honorable lives. As stated in her personal statement, she has what it takes to become a physician who can be challenged for solving problems and developing unique creative solutions to cure patients. Kennedi maintains an extremely high level of academic achievement that positioned her for the CTO Summer Internship.

Kandice Wimbush

Kandice recently graduated from Old Dominion University this past May 2023 with a major in Biomedical Sciences. Kandice has gained research experience throughout her microbiology course where she conducted research on Ebola to create a novel disease control plan. This experience allowed her to critically analyze data used for research. Kandice also conducted research to determine the effects of social media on mental health for teenagers. During this experience, she collected data from interviews with teenagers, and she presented her findings through a presentation. The medical field and research has been a passion since high school. Kandice hopes to expand her healthcare knowledge and understand medicine and research while networking with research professionals during her internship. Throughout her roles in healthcare she has become very familiar and comfortable with the healthcare setting. It continues to fuel her passion to gain a career in healthcare after completing her internship.

Headshot of Pamela A. Pamela A., Biology Major at VCU

“Starting the Rudene Mercer Haynes CTOSI, I looked forward to enhancing both my knowledge of clinical research and related skills. At the end, I look back and see the impact this experience has had on me. The impact of one meeting that lasts a lifetime.”

Headshot of Rebecca G Rebecca G., Biology Major at VCU

"The Rudene Mercer Haynes CTOSI is great exposure to an aspect of patient care you couldn't see anywhere else. I've gained valuable perspective that I'll carry with me throughout my career. This has been one of the best experiences I've had as an undergraduate."

Headshot of Madisonne J. Madisonne J., Biology Major, Marketing Minor at VSU

“The Rudene Mercer Haynes CTOSI is a prime example of two things: 1) inclusion and 2) productivity. There is always a task to be completed and when you have an issue there's always someone there to help. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to participate.”

Headshot of Sera L. Sera L., Biology Major, Chemistry Minor at VCU Honors College

"As a participants in the Rudene Mercer Haynes CTOSI, I was not only able to build my knowledge, improve my interpersonal skills and expand my personal network, but I was also able to partake in meaningful, patient-centered clinical trial activities. My experiences from this internship have helped define my career goal of pursuing both medicine and cancer research."

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