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Student Perspective: SURP 2005 to Becoming a Student at WSU
By Jennifer Barrick, Genetic Counseling Graduate Student

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) here at Wayne State University proved to be a valuable experience in many ways, and I got to meet people from all over the country. When applying to the SURP of 2005, I was really interested in genetic counseling, and was considering pursuing a degree and career in the field. There were several labs who were taking on SURP students, but I really wanted to see the clinical side of research that genetic counselors observe.

Once getting into the SURP program, I began a research study on the genetics of hearing loss. The project was going to entail a retrospective chart study of children diagnosed with hearing loss. The purpose of me taking on this project was to develop an introduction and protocol, which would then be sent in to the Human Investigations Committee (HIC). If HIC approved the study, it would be given to a future graduate student to take on. This research took up some time, but I was able to volunteer and observe at genetic counseling clinics at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Hutzel Hospital, and Karmanos Cancer Institute. At Children’s I volunteered in the Pediatric Genetic Clinic. I helped complete Birth Defect Registry forms for the state of Michigan, and also developed patient post-diagnosis sheets for parents of affected children. Also, at Hutzel, I volunteered at the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy through University Women’s Care, where I designed and developed patient literature on certain ultrasound markers called “soft signs”.

This experience helped me in several ways. It solidified my idea that I wanted to go to graduate school for genetic counseling. Also, it gave me incredible, invaluable experience that many people do not get to participate. Finally, it gave me a huge advantage when applying to graduate programs.

In the end, I chose to come to Wayne State’s Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. I felt comfortable with the program because I had already spent a summer meeting the faculty and counselors. If I would not have participated in the SURP program I would not have gotten my foot in the door, and I would not have an understanding of the research side of genetic counseling.

Whether I had participated in SURP for laboratory research or clinical research, it was a great experience all around. I got to know Wayne State’s programs, and I knew it was where I belonged.

Jennifer Barrick graduated from Michigan State University in 2006 with a BS in Microbiology and a concentration in Molecular Genetics. While at MSU, she worked in an immunogenetics lab studying MMP-9 gene expression in bovine neutrophils. She also spent time volunteering for the MSU Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention team (SACI)—an advocacy group and sexual assault crisis hotline. She also participated in Wayne State University 's Summer Undergraduate Research Program in 2005. Jennifer is originally from Wixom , MI , and in her free time she enjoys traveling, golf, watching sports, and spending time with friends and family.


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