During my time in the BS in Biology with an Emphasis in Pre-Medicine program at GCU, I wanted to be as involved as I possibly could while still being able to focus on my studies. However, I did not join any clubs throughout college, preferring to get involved with a research group instead. I wanted to have research experience because it helps with self-learning and forces you to think further into a specific topic.
Throughout my time in RDP I was working with professors on hydrogen production by cyanobacterial species. This allowed me to hone my laboratory skills and learn more about biochemical processes that contribute to the activity of hydrogenase enzymes and the production of hydrogen. Besides participating in laboratory research, my RDP group worked on a manuscript. It was a great experience because we were able to learn how to professionally write a research article on innovative technology that is being studied throughout the world.
Not only did we prepare a research article for publication but we also were able to present our work multiple times to the public. This year our group participated in the Undergraduate Research Symposium in April, as well as the Undergraduate Research Showcase in November. Moreover, we were selected by the Arizona Bioindustry Association to present at their annual event in October.
RDP allows you to gain skills and knowledge on a research topic that you can easily expand on later in life. With school and classwork being the most important, I would say that working in just one RDP group would be the most beneficial because you will be able to give all your time and efforts to one topic. Being in multiple RDP groups could spread yourself thin and not give you the ability to be the most efficient in your topic of research.
One other piece of advice that I would give would be to start in an RDP group after your first year of college so that you know your study habits and how to manage your time as a CSET student. This still gives you three years of research experience and the opportunity to build upon your work year after year. This would give you something to talk about in your interviews and perhaps continue research after you graduate. Since I started my junior year and graduated a semester early, I only had three semesters to work with my group. Since these semesters were so beneficial, I know if I had more time there would be many more opportunities to take advantage of. In addition, working under your RDP instructor gives you a mentor throughout your college experience. Joining an RDP group does give you more work to do, but the experience will make you a better-rounded student and give you invaluable knowledge.
Along with RDP, there are plenty of extracurricular activities you can participate in to enhance your experience. For instance, I also worked as a geriatric caregiver throughout my last two years of college. This job helped me gain clinical experience while giving me the ability to study for a sufficient amount of time. In addition, I also received my EMT license during the summer going into my last semester. All throughout my college experience, I have shadowed many doctors, including a neurologist, an emergency room physician and a spine surgeon. Lastly, to end my college experience I am also going on a medical mission trip to Papua New Guinea for two weeks.
Being involved is just as important as good grades. With all of this being said, it is possible for you to include RDP into your schedule, study efficiently and save time to build your resume for grad school. The biggest component is learning time management.
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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.