Our Featured Alumnus for Fall 2019 is Christina Daly. Christina finished her MS at Appalachian in 2016 under the supervision of Dr. Darren Seals.
What do you currently do?
I am working toward a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the lab of Dr. Ryan Potts.
Why did you pick App State for graduate work?
I had done a few years of undergraduate research at App State and had worked with graduate students who moved on to medical school and PhD programs. I knew that getting my master's degree would inform my choice between medical school and further graduate work. App State in particular allowed me to be the senior lab member shortly after I began, so I was able to learn general lab maintenance and effective training techniques alongside running my own project.
Did getting your MS degree help you with your current career? How?
Absolutely. With my master's degree I was able to immediately start in a full-time position at Wake Forest University in the lab of Dr. Karen Haas. I spent two years there, learning new techniques and contributing to publications which made me a competitive candidate for graduate school. I feel confident going into my graduate work at St. Jude as I have gone through the qualifying exam and grant and thesis writing processes before. Additionally, I have experience with a large variety of techniques, allowing me to be creative in developing my PhD project. I had exposure to various fields of research starting with my undergraduate work, so I am confident in my interests and in my choice of department.
Do you have any advice/tips to give to current graduate students for:
a. Their time here
Make the most of your time in graduate school. Be creative in your thinking and in how you approach experiments. Many discoveries were made unexpectedly or by testing something on a whim.
b. Career choices
Trust yourself. It could be easy to end up in the wrong career if you only listen to what everyone else wants for you. I think it is best to envision the type of career that you want in the future, particularly the type of work that you would carry out day to day. Then you can take the steps in life that best prepare you for this opportunity. Earning a degree is an important step towards the path you want to take, however that piece of paper is symbolic of how much you learn and grow through these experiences. It is important to invest time and effort into yourself to ensure that you are actually becoming the person with the skill set that you envision having in your future.