Internship Spotlight: Rachel Kawakami

By Neal Adam, PhD

Rachel Kawakami in a lei

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce one of my students. Rachel Kawakami was a student in my BIO-182 (Intro Biology) and BIO-365 (Biostatistics) classes. She is from Ka’a’awa, Oahu, and is a senior here at GCU, majoring in biology with an emphasis in pre-medicine. She had the opportunity to participate in a summer research internship.  This is what Rachel has to say about her 2017 summer research internship:

“This summer I was fortunate enough to be one of five students selected to participate in the John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Department of Native Hawaiian Health Summer Research Internship Program. This internship was a 10-week program that provided us with the opportunity to learn and apply research skills from a health disparities framework. We also participated in weekly lectures, professional development seminars, informal talks, physician shadowing and cultural activities that enhanced our understanding of how culture impacts health and wellbeing.

“I was assigned to a research team, comprised of a research mentor and a biostatistician and we developed a community-based participatory research study on the cardiovascular disease risk among the four major ethnic groups in Hawai’i using the Framingham Risk Score. As part of the study, I was responsible for conducting a literature review on the previous data and findings and summarize it, formulating a research question and figure out which study deign would work best, validating and analyzing the data to apply the appropriate statistical test (with the assistance from my mentor and the biostatistician), interpreting results, creating a final report and poster and presenting our research project and our results to a room of physicians at a hospital and to staff, faculty, students and physicians at a medical school. I am currently in the process of working on publishing my paper with my team.

“I was always interested in learning more about medical research and being involved in a research project. Prior to my internship, I participated in discussions and planning for a research project through GCU’s Research & Design Program. That experience helped me to become familiar with the various aspects of research and helped prepared me for my summer internship. Additionally, I took Biomedical Statistics here at GCU and I can honestly say that this class definitely provided me with the knowledge and skills to understand the statistical analysis aspect of our project.

“My summer research internship was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned so much about research, confirmed my aspirations for becoming a physician, met some of the most respected physicians and researchers in Hawai’i and shadowed amazing doctors in various specialties in one of the best hospitals in Hawai’i.

“One of the most important lessons I learned through my summer research internship was how well GCU has prepared me for my future endeavors. Entering into the internship program, I doubted my knowledge and skills and whether I would be able to keep up with the fellow interns (who attended some of the best high schools in Hawai’i and some who are currently attending Ivy Leagues or prestigious colleges/universities). I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only could I hold my own, but that I also had more knowledge and skills than I realized and I have GCU to thank for that. I can confidently say that I feel like GCU has prepared me to purse my passion of becoming a physician.”

At Grand Canyon University, we’re committed to offering every learner a quality education and providing them with opportunities for success. Are you ready to find your purpose? If so, then visit the Grand Canyon University website or click the Request More Information button on this page to learn about the many degree programs that we offer through online, evening and traditional campus classes.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.