Motivation is contagious. Two of the founders of SIM have recently graduated and have left the rest of the SIM Board with a serious case of motivation. For the second month in a row, we’re giving you a double feature; we’re on a roll! These two recent graduates poured their heart and souls into their work, and we want to pass down their Vanderbilt legacies so that we at the SIM Board aren’t hogging their shared wisdom and inspiration. We hereby proudly present their stories with the hope that you, too, can be infected with their motivation!
Meet the second student researcher of our May double-feature: Kavya Sharman.
When Ariel and I started SIM, we had no idea of what it would become. We met at a research conference in the fall of 2014. It was the first time I had the chance to share my enthusiasm for all things research with a fellow student researcher. We enjoyed sharing our ups and downs of lab work: from failed PCR experiments to the stress of writing lengthy papers.
We also discussed how difficult it was to find a lab in the first place. When I was finding a lab, I remember sending countless emails and getting rejected time and time again. It was only after I shared this with Ariel that I realized how common this struggle was.
It was during this conversation that we realized how valuable the conference had been. Not only had it given us a chance to share our research experiences, but we were able to bond over seemingly mundane things like Western blots! This was the experience from which SIM was born.
Through SIM, we hoped to share our experiences with others. Vanderbilt has some of the best cutting-edge research labs, and we strive to help students find these research opportunities and make them transformative experiences by providing resources and opportunities to interact with fellow student researchers.
I have truly enjoyed being a part of SIM for the past few years. From meeting exciting people to seeing great ideas and programs come to life, it has been a wonderful experience. To conclude, I want to leave you with with a few helpful tips, as is the SIM tradition, to maximize your undergraduate experience:
Three things I wish someone had told me as a freshman
1. Talk to people! A college campus is one of the most diverse places in the world. During my time as a Vanderbilt student I've met a chemistry TA who traveled the world, a French TA with an MBA, a police-officer-turned-professor, and countless students who have experienced hardships and successes many of us can only dream of. I learned that each person has a unique and incredible story; all it takes is a moment to listen.
2. Pick a lab where you truly enjoy the research! I was fortunate to find a position in a research lab that I found exciting. Nanotechnology and cancer? I was living the research dream! I realized how important this was when the going got tough. Being passionate about the research is what kept me going in the face of negative results and difficult protocols.
3. Diversify your portfolio! No, not in terms of money (though that may be a good idea, too) but rather in experiences. Attend lectures you may not know a lot about and stay afterwards to chat with the speaker (they may end up offering you a job, who knows? :)). Take a class you normally wouldn’t take. Sign up for a student organization you normally wouldn’t join. These may not transform your life; in all honesty, they probably won’t. They will, however, broaden your horizon and make your college experience a little more memorable.
Your college experience is supposed to be the best four years of your life. That may not be true for everyone, but one thing is certain: only you have the chance to make it so.