Hello! My name is Alvina Pan and I am a graduating senior at the University of Maryland studying cell biology and molecular genetics, with plans of becoming a future physician. The Department of Energy (DOE) was admittedly not where I expected myself to be for my senior internship, but having gone through the program, I could not be more grateful for my experiences with my mentor Christy L. Jackiewicz and her team in the Minority Educational Institutions Division (MEI). My time at the DOE was invaluable - the team’s passion and dedication to furthering minority education initiatives was practically tangible during our daily team meetings and continued to inspire me every time I hopped onto a call or worked on a project. I learned so much about the work this division does, and all the effort that goes into a federal division focused on educational equity. While not centered specifically on medicine or health, I know that my experience at the MEI Division will play a significant role in my journey to becoming an effective physician advocate. I have grown passionate about holistic health - I desperately want to learn more about the impact of social determinants, such as lack of education, as a reproducer of inequality. To gain more perspective going forward, I must first learn more about the current state of education and the efforts and pipelines that are being built to help support these communities in need. The MEI Division at the DOE does exactly this - they are advocating for minority students and minority serving institutions through outreach, funding opportunities, and internship programs. It was such a pleasure assisting this wonderful team in their advocacy efforts and their strides in pushing towards educational equity.
During my internship, I had the pleasure of working on a variety of projects with the MEI team. One of my main responsibilities included capturing the multitude of events hosted by the division through written blogs and articles. By the official end of my internship, I assisted in writing seven articles for the Division, all which are published on the Department’s public facing website. Getting a chance to share my thoughts and insights through writing was challenging, yet an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding process. I also assisted with a multitude of other communications efforts to increase opportunities for minority stakeholders - I designed flyers, wrote advertisements, and created newsletter entries that help share information and establish a community within the department.
Additionally, I had the pleasure of assisting with the Micro Accelerator initiative, which aims to create windows of educational and informational opportunity for minority stakeholders. The DOE collaborates with universities around the country to provide online information sessions that highlight internships, research projects, and partnering opportunities. My responsibilities included communicating with some of the speakers to assist with coordinating event dates, gathering necessary advertising materials, and addressing the various topics we wanted the speakers to cover. Through my time at MEI division, I gained a number of tangible professional skills that will be helpful in any career path that I choose - oral communication, writing, collaboration in multidisciplinary teams, and how to act in a professional environment. Mostly, this internship effectively taught me the importance of consistent and clear communication.
This internship pushed me out of my comfort zone and, because of the supportive community of people I got to work with, I ended up gaining an intangible yet incredibly valuable skill - confidence. Oftentimes self-doubt can get in the way of my ability to accomplish my goals, but Christy helped me learn how to embrace my strengths and push myself forward. The growth mindset I developed throughout my time at the DOE will be invaluable in my journey into medicine and physician advocacy. I learned to step out of my comfort zone and thrive on challenges.