Friday, April 20, 2012
Earlier this year, while trying to crash the impacted EMT training course offered at CCSF, it was suggested to me to try getting into the Bridge to Biotech program. I was admittedly skeptical because I didn’t really know what the program entailed and the mental image of me running around in a lab seemed pretty silly.
As an aspiring physician, I wanted to be an EMT because I saw it as a surefire way to gain the experience I needed to be a shoe-in for med school. But I was assured by family and friends that this experience would be just as helpful.
So I called Dr. Edith Kaeuper, program director for the Bridge Program and was surprised to hear her voice on the other line, enthusiastic and reassuring.
“Hi, this is Edith Kaueper.”
“Uhh.. hi. My name is Diane and I was calling to ask about the biotech program”
“Sure, what would you like to know?”
“Well... are there still spots available?” a valid question, I thought, given the spotty availability of public school classes.
I was a little cynical, a vocational program with spots available? But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask a few more questions.
“Is there a job placement?”
“We place you into an internship that usually leads to a work placement. The Bridge Program is geared toward people who don’t have science backgrounds and need to brush up on their math and science skills.”
Now she was speaking my language. I hadn’t taken a math class in years.
I had about a million other questions that I wanted to ask but felt timid because here I was speaking with this person who didn’t know me and I didn’t want to potentially waste her time. Sensing this, Dr. Kaeuper encouraged me to come in the following day to add the classes. I still wasn’t so sure about biotechnology, but I figured the worst that would happen was that I’d make my way up the registration pecking order and get the classes I really wanted the following semester.
Never would I have imagined how much I would have gotten out of this program, or how much I would realize I loved science. I was the person who ran away from math and big words. I was completely confused by complex concepts and never in my wildest dreams would I consider myself a scientist, That’s for brainy meticulous people, I’d always thought to myself, ...and people whose parents could afford to send them to fancy schools.
And as a woman of color, I felt like I had no business in the scientific arena anyway. It was just another unattainable good-ol’ boys network that I would never get to be a part of.
But the Bridge to Biotech program makes science accessible to everyone. Anyone from any background, ethnicity, and income level can learn the skills they need to work in a laboratory setting.
I constantly have so many of those “aha!” moments when a concept finally clicks. After those years of high school and college biology, here I was in the Bridge program finally having a full grasp of the subject!
What’s more is that I am surrounded by instructors who mentor me every step of the way. They always make time for me, they’ll answer any question I have no matter how silly it seems, and they’re perfectly frank and honest about the biotechnology field and how they believe I’ll fit into it.
I still have a ways to go in terms of my certification, but I stand by this program 100%. I feel like I’ve discovered this inquisitive, curious part of myself that I never knew I had!