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Racheal Nassimbwa: Using ALL my Spartan experiences to assemble my knowledge puzzle

Racheal Nassimbwa

Racheal Nassimbwa is a senior majoring in medical laboratory science with a double minor in global public health & epidemiology and health promotion. She is an Honors College student and a Dean’s Research Scholar in the College of Natural Science. She hails from Kampala, Uganda.

I started college with a then “well-thought out” plan of joining medical school right after completing my undergraduate studies. I knew I had to do very well in all my classes to stand a chance at fulfilling this plan.

However, my classes opened me up to more adventures and a strong yearning for more knowledge. I remember talking to one of my professors about my excitement for my major classes, and she told me that as I continued with my classes, it would be like putting together a puzzle with the knowledge from each class. She emphasized that, “You will get all these snippets of knowledge from each individual class, and when you piece them all together, it will make sense.” I started piecing the knowledge from previous classes and carried this mentality to all my other classes, always wanting to know how the knowledge from each individual class would help me complete my puzzle.

I have since created and filled out my knowledge puzzle, using information from all my classes, ranging from the general education classes to my major core classes, and this has made my learning process more enjoyable and productive. In my search for piecing everything together, I have had opportunities to work in various research laboratories on the MSU campus. I have worked on unique research projects and have translated the theoretical knowledge from my classes into practical science skills, which has helped me identify my career interests and get a better sense of direction for my next steps after graduation.

I had an opportunity to conduct research at one of the International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) laboratories—the Malaria Alert Center in Blantyre, Malawi—where I worked on a project to develop a quantitative assay for measuring parasite load among malaria infected patients. This enriching experience was my turning point, and I knew that I wanted to continue conducting research in infectious diseases and public health.

I’ve continued my research pursuits at MSU and have since worked on a research project in HIV, where I participated in research about transmission patterns and vaccine development. My years spent in a research laboratory is one of my top experiences at Michigan State, and one of the most important as I pursue a career in human medicine and healthcare.

Among the academic programs I have participated in, one of the most noteworthy is the Dean’s Research Scholars Program in the College of Natural Science (NatSci), which allowed me to step out of the laboratory and share my research with NatSci alumni, while representing my institution. I have expanded my network through attending conferences and developing connections with fellow students and professors.

I am grateful for the opportunities that MSU provides for undergraduates to get involved in research because, in addition to my traditional classes required for my degree, research has enriched my college experience and equipped me with technical and practical skills that will serve me well in my future career goals.

Through my diversified Spartan experiences and the knowledge snippets I have acquired during

my time at MSU—ranging from my classes, research work, student organizations, and other extracurricular activities—I have been inspired to choose a career path. I plan to go to graduate school and continue education in infectious diseases and public health in order to work with communities that are disproportionately affected by high disease burden.

Published January 18, 2021