When I come into Bridgewater I had a set plan; get my biology degree then go veterinary school. Then Sophomore year came around and I started thinking do I really want to be a veterinarian or is there something else that I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something that involved working with animals. So I stated taking class associated with animals and also more lab work based classes. I wanted to take as many classes as possible so I could get as much experience as possible. After taking all the classes I could possible take I decided that I want a to have a career in doing lab/research work. I like the hands-on aspect of lab work, and it being less expensive than veterinary school was a plus as well. Then Senior year happened. During interterm, I decided that I didn’t want to work in the lab all the time and working in the lab wouldn’t give me the full animal experiences that I wanted. So, I decided that I wanted to go to veterinary technician school after Bridgewater and get my vet tech degree.
I took many classes these past four years that I believe will help me later in life and gave me opportunities to gain experience that I would get anywhere else. On class is an elective class called Histology, taught by Dr. Deem which opened my eyes do doing more lab work. Histology is the study of the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues in plants and animals. In this class, we mainly focused on the animal aspect. One particular part I remember is the malaria lab report. (attached in website under Personalized Educational Program tab). To complete this experiment, we first traveled to JMU to work in their lab facilities, since Bridgewater did not have the right equipment. We gathered two group of mice, all around the same age. One group was injected, by us, with a strand of malaria, the other group was not. After a week after being injected we came back to measure the weight difference in the mice. The mice with malaria loss a substantial amount of weight while the mice without malaria stayed the same weight or gained. We then put the mice to sleep with gas and euthanized them. When then took out the heart, liver, spleen, and blood of each mice for the next part. Since malaria is known to attack the heart and liver cells who knew that we would find the most changes in these organs. For next part of the experiment we took the organs from the mice sliced and prepared them on slides. I learned to fixate the tissue, cut paraffin (which had the organ inside), and attach it to the glass slide. We later then observed the slides under a microscope. We compared the cells of healthy mice liver and heart to a malaria organs. In the end of the experiment we see noticeable differences in the cells of the mice. The mice with malaria had an enlarged spleen compared to other mice.
Another class that challenged me was developmental biology, taught by Dr. Khurgel. In this class, we looked and compared the devolvement of different animals to see what was alike and what was different. Two hands on experiments that I worked on was the effect of temperature on the development of zebrafish and axolotl. I will mainly focus on the axolotl report, which is linked on my website. For this experiment, we were given eggs of an aquatic salamander called and axolotl. Using a microscope, we looked at the cells dividing development of the salamanders. With the help of the microscope we were able to the cells divided stage by stage until they were embryos ready to hatch. We used temperature to test to see if the development of the eggs would be faster or slower. We ran the same experiment for zebrafish. When we did the experiment with the zebrafish we went to the University of Virginia to visit a scientist whose research involved zebrafish. During this trip, we learned about different genes present in the zebrafish and what they did. We also got to see the physical representation of a gene since he dyed the sequence with a fluorescent die that glowed when the zebrafish was under a UV light.
Like I stated before I decided to take many different classes in the biology department to see which path I wanted to go on in the future and I learned many things about myself. For example, comparative anatomy is not for me, that was one of the hardest classes I have taking at Bridgewater, but it also taught be I needed to push myself beyond what I think I can do, the payoff will be great. I couldn’t get a passing grade in any of the practicals in that that class until I pushed myself to do more work and study more, and I ended up with a B for the practical. My time at Bridgewater truly shaped me and gave me experience both in major classes and outside classes that I don’t believe I would have gotten anywhere else.
(Mice lab report and Axolotl lab report located under the Personal Education Program tab on webpage)
Engaging Diverse Perspectives
The class that I enjoyed the most that gave me perspective into a different background was Native American Literature thought my Professor Duncan. I took the class my Spring semester of my Junior year and thoroughly enjoyed it. In this class, we read books about the Native American culture, some even written by people of Native American descendent. One aspect about Native American culture that I enjoyed learning about is the trickster tales. A trickster tale is a story that tells us something about how people act and behave, it often includes a main lesson or moral that is important to the reader or listener of the tale. Many Native Americans used the trickster tales to tell the origin of man or how certain aspects of life, like day and night came about. The trickster tales that enjoyed the most were the origin tales. This are stories about how things come to be for example; night and day, creation of man, or even creation of the Earth. For one of the final projects for the class, I wrote my own trickster tale about how a coyote stole the sun to bring day to his village. I have included this tale on my website under the engaging diverse perspectives. Basically, it tells of how a coyote brings the sun from another village to his village that is always dark. Creating night and day for his village and the village he took the sun from.
We also talked about the common Native American stereotypes that are expressed in novels and short stories that we read in class. Three common stereotypes expressed were alcoholism, racial tension between Native American and white people, and troubled youth or childhood. I wrote an essay (included in the website) about how these three stereotypes where expressed in the writing from two different authors. In the paper also quoted examples for each stereotype and the which characters represented each one in the story.
One class that impacted me the most here at Bridgewater was Human Diversity, taught by Fr. Khurgel. At first I was just taking the class because It was the only interterm class that seemed interesting and that had a Biology background. This class made me think critically and self-evaluate myself. For this class, we discussed what makes a group of people alike or what make them difference. We had to ask ourselves “Are people really different? Does the “race” of a person make them different or does societies portrayal of that “race” make them different?” We looked at the term race and how it came to be. We learned about people based and grouped people in the past based on the time and the resources the thinkers had. For this class took a weekend trip the Washington D.C., which is a place full of diverse people and backgrounds. We got to visit the African American History Museum, which was one of the greatest times of my life. To be surrounded by so much black culture and history overjoying and eye-opening. To learn so much more about my history and my people was truly a blessing. Well on this trip we also took the time to eat at restaurants that have never had the chance to it at. One restaurant was the Lebanese Taverna which served Lebanese. Before this trip I have never heard of Lebanese food, let allow try it. The experience was great to have because I would most likely not had the chance but it’s something that I probably want do again for a while. It wasn’t that the food wasn’t tasty, it was just a new experience for me and not one of my favorites.
I know this isn’t a class or anything but being and RA and member of the Diversity League gave me great opportunities and interactions with people with diverse backgrounds different form mine. I applied and interview for a Resident Advisor position my Freshmen year of college. I did it because I wanted to be more involved on campus and the fact that my room and board was paid for with the position was plus. I ended up getting the job and have been and RA ever since. With being and RA you must engage with you residents on a level more than just saying hello and smiling at them. I have meet some great people who have had a different religion, sexual orientation, family dynamic, political views etc. than my own. I have interacted with them and open heart and open mind about how the see the world and how the world see them. Some of my residents have become friends that I will cherish for my whole life. Diversity League is a group made up of the minority clubs on campus like the Black Student Association, Latino Student Association, Asian Student Association and BC Allies. As a member of Diversity League with all the other members, we strive to have full inclusivity on campus for people with different backgrounds no matter their race, sexual orientation, social or economic status, etc.
Another club that impacted my time these four years is the Black Student Association. I joined the club my freshmen year and have never regretted it since. At BSA I found a family on campus and a home away from home. It was great to develop a connection with people who are like me and who could relate to me. I devoted time to the club and put my heart into it. I had the honor of being the president of the club this year. It was a great leadership opportunity that I was glad to serve as.
(Trickster Tale and Novel Paper located under the Engaging Diverse Perspectives tab on webpage)
Ethics and Community Responsibility
I never thought about Public Discourse until Senior year, fall ’17, when I took Racial and Ethnic Studies taught by Professor Tembo. I remember looking at the syllabus and seeing a whole section about Public Discourse, and having no idea what it meant. In this class we used Public and Civil discourse to determine the origin and current situations of racial and ethnic discrimination. Each Public Discourse that we had we were broken into small groups of four people with one of us being the facilitator. Depending on what topic we talk about weeks prior determined we talked about during the discourse. The discourse would range from different topics effecting different racial and ethnic groups. In each discourse we had to practice active listening, reframing, public audience, and safe space, this was to ensure that everyone could express their views and opinions. After we did the public discourse as a group we would have to write a report individually about what was discussed. In the report we had practice civil discourse, perspective taking, public reasoning, and self-authorship.
One discourse that I remember in particular was the privilege one, where we discussed white privilege. Before doing this discourse Tembo had us read an article called, “’Got Privilege?: What I said When my White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege?”’. Before reading and doing this public discourse I was aware of what white privilege was. One of the first questions asked for the discourse was whether or not you or your racial or ethnic group experienced white privilege. I could honestly say for myself that the answer was no. Me being a Black/ African American female who grew up in a predominantly white place I was fully conscious of my race and reminded of it every day. One of the major characteristics for someone who experiences white privilege is not being aware or reminded of your race in societal situations. I on the other hand have been reminded about my race whenever I walk into certain stores and I am followed will shopping and even just looking at merchandise. Another question that required me to think about outside of my normal mind frame was one that asked me to identify other types of privilege that exist in society. With the help of my group members I was able to identify other types of privilege like male privilege, heterosexual privilege, economic class privilege. Using perspective taking I was able to see that even though I did not experience white privilege and I have experienced others, for example heterosexual privilege. I will never have to experience the judgment a homosexual induvial possibly had to go though.
Like I stated before I was very conscious of my race before entering Bridgewater, and was aware of problems that people like me and who look like me face. Sadly, however I was not fully aware of problems that other minority, racial, and ethnic groups faced. This was mainly because I felt like I couldn’t connect with people of different groups because I would never fully understand their problems. Taking Racial and Ethnic Studies helped me shift my way of thinking to not only think about my group, but also others. Tembo had us do a research/interview project where we had to interview a person of a different racial group than ourselves and debunk racial myths associated with out interviewees group. I decided to interview a counselor who was half Iranian and half white. Doing this interview was truly eye-opening. I was able to learn and hear about my interviewees life, her childhood, and her experiences as an adult. I was also able to connect with my her more on a deeper level after hearing her story as well. One instance that stood out to me the most was when her brothers and herself were called “sand ni**ers” when they were kids. I connected with her, because I was teased in school at a young age and was called “ni**er” a couple of times. I then I realized might not know all the problems that other groups may face and I probably want fully connect with them, but I can still listen and try to understand their perspective.
(Public Discourse report and Interview Essay are located under the Ethics & Community Responsibility tab on webpage.)
Global Citizenship & Intercultural Competencies
While taking my racial and ethnic studies class not only did we talk about racial groups in the United States, we talked about groups on a global scale as well. For example, we talked about different groups in Africa, Asia, and Europe. A particular project I had to talk about was racial situations and history for Mexican American and Puerto Ricans. In this project I discussed the History of Mexican American including the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and also the Immigration Experience past and present that Hispanic individuals face. Though this project I learned more about a different racial group other than my own. I did the presentation that is located on my webpage in partnership with another student in class.
Part of the presentation we had to talk about the Immigration Experience and had to watch a video on it. I was unable to find the video to include it, but it was a class video chosen by Tembo. During the video, it would talk about how children and adults would die in the desert when trying to cross into the United States. The adults and children would be left in the desert and buried in unmarked graves. The families of the dead would have to move on, never being able to visit the grave of their lost family members. During the presentation, I got to talk about how the Mexico and U.S. immigration was unique because both countries share an open border. One reason the immigration is unique is because past immigrants from Mexico maintain a strong cultural and language with their homeland through friends, relatives, and close proximity of the country. A downside of the immigration experience weather the person from Mexico of not is that there is an aura of illegality surrounding migrants. Just because someone migrated from somewhere, doesn’t make them illegal.
(Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans PowerPoint are located under the Global Citizenship and Intercultural Competencies tab on webpage.)
Experiential and Service Learning
Being a Biology major I have been doing experiential learning since freshmen year. I have had experience doing experiments in different classes like Histology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Chemistry and many others However, my senior year offered me two great opportunities to expand learning more than I could imagine. During my Senior year I took two course, Independent Research and Ecology, that gave me experience and responsibility that I can use going into my future.
For my Ecology class myself and another Bridgewater student developed a semester long research project. The title of our project was The Effect of Light Exposure on the Risk Taking of Crayfish. In this experiment we gather two different of crayfish and keep them under different light living conditions. One group had 24 hour exposure of light, another group had 24 hour exposure to darkness, and the last group had 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. We then tested the crayfish every five days for a total of ten days to see how long that stay on the dark side of the testing tank versus the light side. We determined that the risk taking factor of this experiment who be the crayfish coming to the light side, since crayfish prefer dark places. We had to do every aspect of an experiment including research, methods development, data analysis, poster design, and also a video explaining our project. On the experiential and service learning tab of my website I will include my poster, video, project proposal, and data sheet for the project.
My next experiential project that I am doing is my independent research with Dr, Johnstone-Yellin. We testing to see which storage method is best in preserving the nutritional value of acorns. So far we having fully completed the first part of the research, which was going around to different areas in the Bridgewater and Rockingham community to collect different species of acorns. When then brought those acorns into the lab and did a float and visual appearance test to determine if the acorns were viable for the experiment. After we determined which acorns where good or not we then massed and separated the acorns into equal weight groups. Each group was put into the following drying methods; freeze-dryer, sun, room temperature with fan, room temperature without fan, and then control. After the acorns spent a week in their drying methods we removed them their drying method we cracked and ground them up and put them into bags until we were ready to do other test to determine nutritional value. Currently I am working on the doing test to determine the nutritional value of the acorns. I have run test like NDF, ADF, ADL, Fat, and Dry Matter. After doing all these tests I will run a data analysis to see if the nutritional value of the acorns change depending on the storage method. I still currently working on the project so I will be able to present at ASPIRE on campus. The title of my project will be “The Effect of Long Time Preservation on Acorn Nutritional Value” Also since I am not complete with the project yet I am unable to upload a poster to my webpage, however I have upload my data I have gather so far from the project.
(All poster, data, proposal, video located under the Experiential and Service Learning tab on webpage.)