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July 24, 2014
By Summer Lowe, media relations assistant
Northwest Missouri State University faculty work hard to help students gain experience in their major fields of study to benefit them after graduation. Some of that experience occurs through internships that allow students to apply learned skills.
Melissa Ruggiero, a junior chemistry major with an emphasis in medical chemistry, applied for a summer internship with the University of Kansas Medical Center upon the encouragement of her advisor, Dr. Michael Hull, assistant professor of chemistry.
“I encourage students to start applying after sophomore year even though the positions are very competitive and they may not get an internship at that point,” Hull said. “But the experience helps for when they go to apply for internships as a junior.”
Ruggiero, a Lee’s Summit, Mo., native, landed the internship this summer with the medical center. She is conducting experiments, calculating and analyzing data, and presenting her findings to the pharmacology department at the conclusion of the program.
Her research also is being used for a grant proposal by a graduate student who is working in the same lab. Ruggiero believes the hands-on experiences she is obtaining will reap benefits for her and lead to a more fulfilling career.
“If you would have asked me in May if I could see myself doing research for the rest of my life or going to graduate school, I would have most definitely told you no, but this opportunity has completely changed my career path,” Ruggiero said.
Ruggiero is taking away what Hull hopes his students obtain from internships. Hull wants his students’ internship experiences to help hone their interests, learn about jobs in their fields are like and discover directions they want to go in their careers.
Other Northwest students studying science fields are participating in internships this summer at universities such as Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas State, Missouri-Columbia, South Florida and Utah.
“Applying for and completing internships is a labor-intensive process, but the internship is usually transformative for the student,” Hull said. “It raises them to a new level, and watching and getting to be a part of this process is very rewarding.”
Ruggiero said Northwest faculty gave her the foundation she needed to prepare her for real-world settings. She plans on applying for graduate school upon graduation in 2015.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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