"The Life Sciences Program matches the right students with the right internships. When I interviewed with Pathsensors, they warned me that the internship wasn't guaranteed to turn into a job. Two months later they made me a contractual employee and, when I graduated, they invited me to join their full-time staff."
—PAULINE SAMUEL, Associate Degree, Biotechnology, 2011
Pauline Samuel, 45, was one of the first student to walk through the doors of the new Life Sciences Institute in 2009. Pauline has five children and eight grandchildren—and is the only one of her seven brothers and sisters to attend college.
Beginning in 1994, when she earned her GED, Pauline pursued several study programs at nearby universities, dropping out of all. And, despite the fact that she "loved the BioPark, and it was convenient" for her, she admits that she might have dropped out there too, if not for the institute's director, Dr. Kathleen Norris.
"Dr. Norris is such an inspiration. She helped me set my life on track and keep going. I wanted to say, 'Forget this. This is hard.'...but Dr. Norris stayed on me. She said, 'Stick with it. Study. You can do it. Don't get discouraged.' "
And, then, says Pauline, "One morning I woke up, and I wanted my kids to know that there are opportunities out there. You just have to look for them."
Within two years, Pauline had completed her Associate Degree. She now works full-time in an anti-bioterrorism laboratory. And, her 26-year-old daughter has enrolled in college and plans to follow her mother into the biosciences.
Pauline, who lives just seven blocks from the BioPark and her job at Pathsensors, says, "I smile all the time now. I smile all the way to work and all the way home."
Pathsensors investigates dangerous biological threats and develops products for the U.S. Department of Defense and companies specializing in defense contracting.
Kierra Stephens, 21, moved from Dayton, Ohio, to enroll in the biotechnology program at The Life Sciences Institute.
Many of the credits Kierra had earned toward her first Associate Degree were transferrable, but additional courses were required: college algebra, 200-level chemistry and organic chemistry, and it was suggested that she repeat a course in genetics. In the genetics course taught at The Life Sciences Institute, she worked in student groups of three to learn the latest laboratory protocols, including DNA cloning.
"The biotechnology program here is tremendous," Kierra says. "It's a quality program, and I love the BioPark environment."
When Kierra graduates in May 2012 with an Associate's Degree in biotechnology from LSI, she will have completed a 250-hour paid internship with the UMB Department of Neurobiology. Her internship is located just across the street from the institute where she takes classes.
"With my previous program, no internship was required and job offers were low."
Because Kierra applied for and received a Life Sciences Scholarship each semester, she will graduate without educational debt. Mid-summer, she will begin a second paid internship with a new employer. Selected for the Towson University Bridges Program, a Bachelor's Degree program in the life sciences, she will continue with her paid internship and her first semester at Towson will be tuition-free.