My summer internship for Biomedical Engineering–and why I love science.
There are two definitive moments of my internship—totally unrelated, but to me, inseparable.
The first happened when I was almost shoulder-to-shoulder with a doctor who was slicing open a sedated rat for its heart.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but about twenty minutes later, the tiny organ—about the size of a lima bean and tinted a soft pink—was pulsing steadily upon a needle that dripped a sugary, oxygenated solution. The RIT students gingerly draped a net of mesh and electrodes around the heart to collect data. They and I have been setting up this perfusion (called a Langendorff system) since the morning and had missed lunch, but my empty stomach and tired eyes now felt so inconsequential in the face of this nature-defying feat of science.
The second moment happened at RIT’s Global Village during my lunch break, when I was enjoying a BLT sandwich and vanilla Coke. The atmosphere was peaceful, my Spotify playlist was on full blast…so I was a little reluctant and apprehensive when a stranger asked to sit at my table, though I let him.
About two songs passed without a single word exchanged. He was writing something on his phone with a stylus. When he passed it to me, I finally realized that he was deaf. We wrote messages to each other: he revealed that he was from Tanzania and studying engineering; I explained that I was a high schooler. He smiled and gave me a thumbs-up before he left. I sat in my chair for a while with music still playing in my ears, thinking about the more-human side of STEM: the side that brings totally different people together.