2011 CCWinter/FASTRAC

Angel Alvarez

College: American River College
Major: Biology

Get up in front of the room and give a 2-minute speech about a significant childhood memory. That is what Dr. Corbacho has us do as an initial icebreaker. There was no time to be nervous or uncomfortable because we were about to go through a short, but intense, 2-week research program. The whole experience of doing research was a

great eye opener. This was my first research experience and the first time that I was placed in a lab setting where I was given very little instruction. Our group had an experimental goal, and it was our responsibility to research methods and techniques that would help us achieve that goal. The biggest thing I learned during this experience is that in research there are many unknowns. With the help of others you can overcome some of those unknowns, however, it might require many trials and errors. As my first research experience, the CCWinter/FASTRAC Research Program gave me a lot of confidence in myself to work in a team as both a leader and a follower. I learned that it is necessary to lead when you have the knowledge in order to do so, but that it is also necessary to follow and learn when you don’t have knowledge of certain things. I learned many new lab techniques that will help me all throughout my undergraduate years and I also made a lot of new friends thanks to this great program at  UC Davis. 

Tasha M. Barr

College: Cosumnes River College
Major: Biochemistry and Biophysic

Being able to participate in the 2011 CCWinter/FASTRAC Research Program was a phenomenal and rewarding opportunity. The thought alone of being accepted into the program was very exciting. The experience opened my eyes to how much fun 

and worthwhile time spent in research could be. It was full of infinite learning possibilities; the excitement was endless. Teamwork was essential in the learning process. The program focused on independence and cooperation within each team. Each individual possesses different strengths, weaknesses, personalities, and learning styles allowing each member in a team to contribute in various ways. The exceptional work that is put in by Dr. Corbacho and the entire facility makes this internship unique. Dr. Corbacho was an amazing director and inspiring in copious ways. Taking risks and inviting interested undergraduates with no research experience builds an incredible amount of confidence in each individual who participates in this intense research experience. By the end of the two weeks, we learned to all work together to achieve our common goals and became a family. I encourage anyone who has ever thought of the idea of doing research to apply to this program without hesitation. You will not be disappointed with the opportunities presented to you and the wonderful people you will get to meet. Those with different backgrounds, interests, and majors will all have a place in the program. 

Paolo A. Concepcion

College: Canada College
Major: Biology

My experiences during this CCWinter/FASTRAC Program were inspiring. Prior to Dr. Corbacho’s program I 

had no idea what to expect in a career involving research. I always imagined a research career as hours of mundane pipette work, but it was actually much more exciting than what I initially thought. Although we were there for only two weeks, I learned many ways to become a better student, team member, and leader. I found that greatest learning experience came in the form of challenges we were presented with. In the very beginning of the program it was difficult to believe that anything would be accomplished because of the lack of structure within the groups. Our group members had varying degrees knowledge and capabilities; it was difficult to sort out our strengths and weaknesses in the beginning. There were times when resources and materials were scarce, and it created another source of tension between the groups. I was frustrated many times. As we got to know each other, everything fell into place. We developed systems that made our group more efficient in completing our tasks. While lab technique was important, I felt that teamwork, communication and leadership practice was the gem of this program. Dr. Corbacho designed an awesome program that cannot be taught in an academic setting, and students that participated in this program would gain precious experience useful to any academic and professional endeavor.

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Jesse Chua Dingle

College: Yuba College
Major: Biology

The Winter Research Program at the Center of Biophotonics, Science and Technology (CBST) and the College of Biological Sciences is uniquely an unforgettable experience for all interns, including me. Throughout the two-week program other interns and I, had the privilege to get a first hands on experience in a phenomenal research setting. I called the first day, “breaking the ice day”. It was crucial to know and feel comfortable with the individuals you were about to 

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work with. The guest speakers we invaluable in a sense that they reminded us of our aspirations which motivated us even more to succeed and direct us closer to the right path towards our goals. Everyday, I learned so much from other interns with different levels of knowledge. I found it interesting that every moment I spent in the program, there was never a time were I felt nonchalant, but instead felt invigorated, curious, and more confident each moment. This program was very challenging without a list of procedures to follow, which in turn, challenged our ability to think critically and openly to our group. Sharing ideas and knowledge with the group was crucial part of problem solving. We were let go without training wheels and were left use the knowledge we had intact to solve them. During labs we would encounter roadblocks in our experiments, but that never discouraged us, we worked collectively as a group to barge through the roadblocks successfully. Although Dr. Corbacho was sick for the first half of the internship, she tried her best to mentor each group and most importantly to have fun; she was an inspiration to all of us. It's unreal now that the internship is over. I made great friends, had amazing unforgettable experiences, and learned a lot on how to fulfill my goals in the near future. There is no doubt in my mind that this amazing experience is right for those who want to pursue in biology-related majors!

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Galina A. Dushenko

College: American River College
Major: Biology

Without a doubt, this program was the best thing I could 


have done with two weeks of my winter break. This was the first research program I have ever participated in, and I was worried I was not going to get in; however, I was accepted, and I am so happy that I did it! Throughout the two weeks I was surrounded by truly intelligent and promising people. Those people included everyone from other students working towards medical school to a Dean from UC Davis! This internship was very exiting and informative, and did not feel strenuous as some may suspect. The two weeks flew by very fast and I still stay in close contact with a lot of the people I was privileged to meet. I am sincerely honored to say that I participated in such a professional program.

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Shahane B. Everett

College: Napa Valley College
Major: Cell and Molecular Biology

The CCWinter/FASTRAC Research Program was priceless. From the moment I entered the building, 


the supportive atmosphere CBST provided comforted me. In addition, the various social activities we participated in allowed us to break down our barriers to promote a collaborative environment. This collaboration extended into our research project where we were challenged to think and conduct experiments independently to achieve our final goal. Witnessing the results of each experiment became a valuable reward to be proud of. This program not only introduced us to research, but it highlighted the importance of time management, organization and communication skills, all of the fundamental aspects that arise while researching. Another aspect to the CCWinter/FASTRAC program I found extremely beneficial was the guest speakers. As a community college student, I am always seeking advice and helpful information for my transition to a university and my career in the sciences. Listening to presentations from past interns and professors provided me with an array of useful advice to apply to my career. What is truly special is that we are not only taught lessons valuable in the science field, but we are also given advice that we can apply to life. With all of these various elements combined, the program transformed into a life-altering experience.

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Moses C. Funtila

College: Mission College
Major: Biology

Before the winter college session was to begin, I got an email telling me about the Community College Winter Research Program (CCWinter/FASTRAC) at UC Davis. I registered for a class during the winter session but applied for the program anyway. When I got accepted and began the program, I soon 


realized how important and valuable the experience would be for my future in medicine. I went ahead with the program and dropped the winter session class. I am glad I did. The decision was more conducive for my my educational goal which is to get to medical school; the goal, however, did not include research experience. That plan has been modified since the program. Because of the realism, practicality, and direct participation in science research activities during the program, I am now determined to apply to my next school with the intention of working in a research laboratory to further enrich my undergraduate experience. Add the professional and "fun" activities facilitated by Dr. Ana Corbacho, the two-week program evolves into an unforgettable and life-changing experience. I formed friendships with other future doctors and scientists that I am sure will become great contributors to their fields of work. The experience created in me a rich desire to make a difference through research.

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Kim Ngan M Huynh

College: Solano Community College
Major: Biology

Getting a chance to participate in the CBST/FASTRAC Winter Research Program is a great experiment for me. This is the first time that I get involved in an internship. 


I have a chance to know these great people and open my mind, broaden my knowledge. It was a fun experiment. I still remember the feeling on the first day I came to the center, nervous, excited; and now it's already ended. Two weeks it's just too short. Even though it's just two weeks, I already have the feeling that I know these friends for a year. I will miss all the fun that we had together and all the challenges the program gave me. Through this internship, I've got a glimpse of how it will be when I have a full time job. I have learned how to collaborate with people and take turns with leadership. It also makes me feel more independent and confident. It is great that I got a chance to know more about UC Davis. Besides working in the lab, we also had guest speakers and I learned a lot of helpful information from them about how to apply for research program in the future, how life of a UC student looks like. Through all these things, I also have a clearer idea about my next step and how to get there. I feel grateful for this chance. I want to thank CBST, the College of Biological Sciences and Dr. Corbacho for this wonderful opportunity. 

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Matthew R. Kelley

College: Santa Rosa Junior College
Major: Biology

The CBST/FASTRAC Winter Research Program was an incredibly rewarding experience held within two weeks. Great times spent in and out of the lab 


made the weeks go by very rapidly. The research project embarked upon brought all of the interns to new levels in critical thinking. With my team, I personally enjoyed the challenge of designing our own experimental process to reach the specific final goals. We worked through our failures and successes, improving our abilities to work effectively alone and together. Dr. Corbacho pushed us hard to work through our difficulties on our own. Throughout our research, she showed us the importance of taking breaks to refresh our minds and bond as a group. The games not only brought everyone closer together, but increased the overall energy once we were back in the research environment of the lab. Other highlights of the program included learning about biophotonics from Dr. Molinaro, Dr. Chuang, and Dr. Wachsmann-Hogiu. We spent an entire day receiving a tour of the College of Biological Sciences from the dean, Dr. Ken Burtis. He showed us the opportunities for undergraduate research, led us through an undergraduate lab, and took us to lunch at one of the dining commons. That evening, Dr. Burtis even took us bowling at the lanes below the bookstore, where a great time was had by all. Throughout my academic and work career I will continue to draw upon the lessons learned and I am thankful for all of those who were involved. 

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Negin Kialoni

College: American River College
Major: Biomedical Engineering

As a CBST/FASTRAC winter student, 


I was able to achieve professional, academic and communication skills. The program, created an encouraging atmosphere for me to learn the problem solving process from hypothesis step up to the hands on experience. I learned many lab techniques as well as how to work with different laboratory equipment. I also had the opportunity to benefit from guest speakers which were so informative and gave us helpful information. I appreciate the time that Dr. Corbacho spent with us to design activities; in order to create a friendly environment for everyone. Overall being part of CBST was the best academic experience I ever had in my college and I would encourage all of my peers to apply.

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Caprice M. Lee

College: Santa Rosa Junior College
Major: Botany

My expectation of the CBST/FASTRAC Winter Research Program was far exceeded. These two weeks gave me more real world experience than any class I have ever taken. 


Experimental design and execution, learning to communicate effectively, developing patience, collaborating with a group, leadership and critical thinking were just a few of the integral aspects of this program. Although our group did encounter experimental error and rejected hypotheses, it was very fulfilling once we were able to complete successful experiments. Moreover, it was exciting to know that the small step we were taking was a part of a larger experiment that could make a difference in medical research. Having no protocol was exciting and beneficial. By having to teach myself the new laboratory techniques necessary to fulfill these tasks, I learned far more thoroughly than having it told to me in a lecture hall. In addition to the research experience, we had the opportunity to see seminars and presentations regarding graduate school, tips about working in a laboratory, how to give an effective presentation and the importance of challenging stereotypes. I learned important information about the UC system and the significance of research. Following an undergraduate researcher opened my eyes to the research possibilities available to me and what university life is like. I also gained much needed information about professionalism and time management. Meeting the other interns was also a huge part of the experience. The activities we participated in helped us learn more about each other as well as more about ourselves. I am grateful to have a clearer view of myself and where I want to be in the future. I benefited greatly from the mentorship with Dr. Corbacho and Dr. Burtis. Both of these people helped instill the confidence I need to get where I am going. Thank you for everything.

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Mikhail M. Melnik

College: American River College
Major: Biology

The CBST/FASTRAC Winter Program has been a very wonderful opportunity for me and the other participants. Although I cannot speak for them, I can say that this internship 


has specifically been a very educational and a wonderful experience to me. I had never worked in a lab team at this scale before and it was a very interesting to be a part of it. You begin to notice things that wouldn’t be seen without a first hand perspective, such as how a person, myself in this instance, contributes to a team and how he or she relies on other people to help them when they are struggling, which I was on more than one occasion. When I initially applied to the program, I believed that I could do everything myself but after completing the program, I am grateful that I was able to be a part of my group and I wouldn’t have been able to finish the tasks assigned to me without them. This experience also taught and showed me how research is conducted in the lab. It requires an open mind and creative thought and, most importantly, collaboration with group members. After completing this internship, I will definitely be applying to summer research that seeks to discover new knowledge at the forefront of science. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested or considering doing research since it will give you the first hand experience of laboratory work and working in groups.

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Cesar Morfin

College: Los Medanos College
Major: Biochemistry and Biophysics

Looking back at my experience at the 2011 CBST/FASTRAC Winter Research Program, I can think of many insights and skills I have acquired. The various speakers provided important information 


that painted a better picture for an undergraduate taking the next educational step. The speakers ranged from interns who had previously attended the program, to some of the biological professors and the Dean biological sciences. The Dean, I thought, was really engaged with this internship who even took the time to play a few games of bowling with the group. Now before any of the lab activities began, Dr. Corbacho had an effective way to speed through the awkward process of the interns getting to know each other. We did this by first introducing ourselves, at least 3 times, and the rest of the process was done by just merely playing games involving elements of collaboration and communication between all of the interns. I was grateful for these activities because once we had been assigned into our groups and given our task it soon dawned on us that mostly through collaborating and communicating would we be able to meet our deadline. Fortunately, that is exactly what the whole group did. I’ve never been a part of such a well developed team in reaching a common goal where now I can say that I have. Last, but not the least, I’m not only able to walk away from this experience gaining a skill set, but I also met some great people as well. 

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Thong D. Nguyen

College: Sacramento City College
Major: Chemistry

Participating in the 2011 CCWinter/FASTRAC Research Program was an unforgettable experience as I had a chance to emerge in new knowledge and try to come up with ideas 


in solving the puzzle of the project. The trickiest part is to find the suitable approach given the availability of resources, so I had to be both creative and logical in my thinking to find the best solution. My best experience was to meet with Dr. Ken Burtis, who is the Dean of College of Biological Science -UC Davis, and walk into one of UC Davis ‘s Genetics laboratory to see how undergraduate students do research. Collaborating with other interns and with my group’s members taught me to work as a team and being a good leader when needed. After the internship, I recognized that my communication skill greatly improved. This program was designed to help community college students to grow in their professional career and it did a great job thank to Dr. Ana Corbacho. With all of my respect, Dr. Corbacho was also a great mentor as she thoughtfully planned out the activities for the interns to see the world of researchers, the pathway to become professionals in any fields, and the opportunity for us to explore science. There were always fun activities such as music chairs, unknot the tie, “assassin” and the bowling game at Memorial Union building. I am grateful to be in the program and strongly motivated to apply for the CBST Summer Internship. 

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Jaime H. Orozco

College: Los Medanos College
Major: Cell and Molecular Biology

Before this program, I only had a vague idea of what research was all about, and I knew even less about biophotonics. 
From beginning to end, this winter internship was a real eye opener and a life changer for me. Learning about the astounding ways light could be applied to subjects like medicine, and virus research really motivated me to look at biophotonics as a possible route for research. I also learned life lessons that changed my perspective 


on how I view myself and others. Throughout the program, Dr. Corbacho observed us, made us do silly things that didn’t make sense at first, but in the end revealed to us who we were, and made me question things I never question before relating to how I work, think, and what I want to do academically/career wise. I learned immensely from this 2-week intensive program about research, how to structure experiments, write-ups, how to organize, how to use all kinds of instruments and perform procedures I have never performed myself. Research really is all about what you can do yourself, and with other researchers working with you. You will not have an instructor around always to help guide you, that’s just not how it works in real life. Here you learn that, you practice it here everyday. What I have gained from this experience was gaining new and wonderful people as friends who all are intelligent, and all have great aspirations to do some good in this world through their work in the sciences or medicine. I had the opportunity to work with them, and to learn and be humbled by them. It seemed like every group had a few people who had prior experience in research or just different types of procedures not normally done in a chemistry or biology course. This was great, because that gave me the opportunity to learn. I truly feel that this program has prepared me for success in future research in the sciences. In the end, I learned more about myself, biophotonics, research, how to do research in groups, how to better interact with fellow researchers, how to adapt and to quickly learn new lab procedures, and independence/confidence. If I could do it again I would. It’s that awesome!

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Micah A. Patterson

College: Sacramento City College

The experience at the CBST/FASTRAC Winter Program was very rewarding.  Now that I’m back


 in school, I’ve noticed I have developed more independence in my studying abilities, which I attribute to the winter experience.  On top of that, I have learned to ask for help from other students more readily, which I probably learned through teamwork in the lab.  During our field trip to UC Davis I learned a lot more about what UCD has to offer students—which is tons of great opportunities (and good/healthy food in the cafeteria too)—and I’m pleased to be fortunate enough to have been given a tour of the UCD campus by the Dean for the College of Biological Sciences.

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Adrianna D. Robinson

College: American River College

The CCWinter/FASTRAC Research Program was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I had never done scientific research before and I was excited (and nervous) to start the program. I expected that a lab manual or set of instructions would be provided 


like my chemistry and biology labs, but there was no manual. In the lab we were given a set of unknown solutions and told to figure out what they where. All we had was our group members and the Internet for research to solve the problem before us. It was challenging and sometimes frustrating as well, but it was also fun to discover things for ourselves, try out new experiments, and work together to accomplish our goal. In addition to getting to working in lab and learning new lab techniques, we also participated in games and group activities that brought everyone closer together and were a nice balance to the work time in the lab. Also, we met many professionals involved with scientific research and undergraduate students at Davis that shared lots of great advice and information about future research opportunities and succeeding in college after transferring. I really enjoyed the two weeks in the internship and I am really thankful to Dr. Corbacho and everyone at the internship for giving me the opportunity to participate. I made lots of new friends, gained some valuable lab experience, and received some great advice for the future.

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Stephanie R. Soderberg

College: American River College
Major: Biology

As a part of CCWinter/FASTRAC Research Program, 


I was introduced to a more professional laboratory setting. I gained real-world experience by using the knowledge from my previous classes in practical applications in the laboratory. Through this introductory laboratory experience, I was able to witness how research plays a vital role in medicine and patient care. By being a part of this program, I solidified my desire to pursue a major in the biological sciences department and to pursue more laboratory experience in the future. The Winter Research Program for Community College Students will aid my future laboratory classes with not only techniques, but also with collaborating with teams and keeping a laboratory notebook. By being a part of this wonderful experience in the beginning of my college education, I will be set apart from my peers not only in community college, but those who attend UC Davis. In my future, the Winter Research Program for Community College Students will open more opportunities to work in a laboratory when I transfer to UC Davis. This unique opportunity for junior college students, and I am very thankful to be a part of this amazing experience.

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Ryan D. Solis

College: Canada College
Major: Biology

My winter break did not become the typical same old break compared to previous years. Upon entering it was difficult to see where we were all headed but soon Dr. Corbacho 


clearly indicated the path and long task ahead. The program gives you the ability to connect and work together in a group in order to overcome the challenges that are faced in a typical research setting. We were given the chance to exercise professionalism and leadership throughout this program. Asides from the resources given, our previous scientific knowledge became the best asset in conducting experiments and analyzing data. Working as an intern, I was able to have the guidance and helpfulness from Dr. Corbacho. Her careful construction of this program along with colleagues lead to countless moments of excitement and hard work. We were always encouraged to have fun and keep the enthusiasm going even throughout our most frustrating times. Academically, my goals have been further shaped and refined by the program. It has given me a view of my future goals and solidified potentials. My experience can be considered a stepping stone in forming the visions for my future. Looking back, I can truly say that this is currently one of my most valuable and influential experiences that I have had the chance to participate. I strongly recommended anyone who is truly interested in research to participate because Dr. Corbacho’s creativeness will spark interest and motivation towards a potential career.

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Oscar Tinoco

College: Allan Hancock College
Major: Cell and Molecular Biology

Applying for this CCWinter/FASTRAC Winter Research Program has been one of the best academic choices I’ve ever made, second only to returning back to school. It provided me a great learning experience, which has adequately prepared me for future obstacles and opportunities. 


Just as rewarding, the hands on experience, has further interested me in pursuing a career in conducting scientific research. This experience has left me rearing for more and since then, applying a summer research internships has become a top priority. What I’ve gained from this experience is truly invaluable. I have benefited much from the seminars and guest speaker, which provided great information such as how to approach professors as a student who would like to participate in their research projects. Also, guest speakers, who shared their experiences in volunteering and studying abroad, have influenced me in seriously considering doing something similar. Conducting research in the laboratory was also rewarding. Becoming familiar with lab skills, tools, procedures, and protocols has given me the confidence to step into a laboratory with a sense initiative. The experience has also taught me how effectively important it is to balance hard work with fun activities. Bowling with UC Davis’s dean of Biological Sciences, after a UC Davis 101 laboratory experiment, was my favorite. My experience during this internship was extremely rewarding in more ways than what I’ve shared in this personal statement. I would just like to thank everyone, Ana Corbacho, CBST, guest speakers, and fellow interns, for making it all happen.

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Michelle Vy

College: Cosumnes River College
Major: Biology

The CCWinter/FASTRAC Research Program was one of the most rewarding and unique experience I have ever encountered. I came into this research program not knowing what to expect 


being that it was my first research experience. What I gained was more than words can describe, and that it was a truly insightful and a fascinating experience. This internship was invaluable because of the many other students that I’ve met and worked along with, the priceless advice from many researchers and even the dean from U.C Davis, and the intense hands on research that I had the chance to partake in. I had the great opportunity of being a team player, and an independent researcher. This was the first time procedures and protocol wasn’t given in lab, and the hands on experience on the project really helped me appreciate and understand science better. Even though we worked hard and intensely in lab every day, we also were involved in many engaging and fun activities. We would take breaks and played games such as musical chair, categories, dodge ball, and many other games! These games were different because I never expected to have fun while doing a serious research. However, these games helped all the interns grew closer, helped us clear our minds and we simply worked hard and played hard. Dr. Corbacho is an amazing mentor who gave us many invaluable advices, and she supported our independence, while guiding us to be the best we can be. This internship was truly an amazing experience that is extremely beneficial for anyone of us going into science. I’m glad that I am part of this group this year and thank you all for making this a remarkable and unforgettable experience.

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Rebecca Wong

College: Solano Community College
Major: Biology

Laughter, frustration, puzzled, and happiness are some of the words to describe my experience at the CBST/FASTRAC Winter Research Program. From the crazy games to the serious lab work, 


I experienced the culture and the life of being a research scientist in two weeks. Not only did I meet new friends, I gained skills and confidence that I can use in my future. When we were first expose to our assignment, I was truly confused and did not know where to begin to approach the experiment. Being in groups of four was wonderful because we divided up the work and we had more knowledge and imagination to work with. It was great to see that we were able to apply our knowledge from school to an actually lab situation. Through some long work days, we were all able to accomplish a goal that we probably thought would be impossible before. Our mentor, Dr. Ana Corbacho was bright and full of life; she reminded us that we need to have fun once in a while, “work hard to play hard.” This internship has opened many different doors for me. The program has leaded me to feel more confident about transferring to a four year institution and also doing research.

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Luis R. Zepeda

College: San Joaquin Delta College
Major: Chemistry

The experience at the CCWinter/FASTRAC Research Program was unbelievable and I was blessed to be part of it. Prior to the program I was a bit sacred because I was not sure 


that I had the knowledge, and the critical thinking skill to make an impression to my mentors. Also, I was afraid that I would not get along with the other interns in the program. The thought of meeting and working with strangers made my first day feel uncomfortable. However, Dr. Corbacho developed group exercises that focus on bringing the other interns together. My favorite exercise was when Dr. Corbacho put us in a circle, and blindfolded us while we were holding a long piece of string that circled us. Afterward, Dr. Corbacho told us a shape and our objective was to verbally communicate with each other to make that shape with the string. It was a great pleasure working with others that shared similar ambition, and aspirations. As soon as we stepped into our first lab, we work like a well tuned clock. Our project was called Saving T.O.M, and our objective was to isolate and quantify a protein. We were given a brief introduction of the project and information about the 16K protein. During the whole two weeks the easy days were yesterday, and figure out how to get to our objective without any lab manual was stressful. However, Dr. Corbacho gave us tools and the confident to finish our project before the dead line. She was a great teacher and she made sure that we had fun throughout the program and can’t wait to join the summer program.