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Undergraduate Spotlight: Corbin McElrath

Class of 2019

"How do you manage to take those difficult courses?" A question I was commonly asked by my peers, family, and friends as I explained the details of my undergraduate coursework.

To truly answer the question about the perplexing course-load, I would give a one-word answer, "Passion." Having a passion for something means that you are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. Science is my passion. There were times in which I thought about taking a semester off, especially during the fall semester of my sophomore year. During this semester, I took Biochemistry lab and lecture, Calculus I, and Genetics while conducting undergraduate research and working at the Health Promotion Office as a Monarch Wellness Ambassador. Because I knew where my heart was, I didn't give up.

During this semester, I reached the lowest point in my college career academically, mentally, and emotionally. Usually, students find it difficult to adjust from their senior year of high school to the freshmen year of college, but because I advanced so quickly through my freshman coursework, I encountered my difficulties during my sophomore year.

The first time I heard about undergraduate research was learning about the Research for Undergraduates in Math and Science program. I finally landed a position in Dr. Emilia Oleszak's lab. At the time, I was interested in obtaining a Ph.D. in Virology, the same degree Dr. Oleszak completed during her graduate studies. After working in Dr. Oleszak's lab and securing two extramural research opportunities (the University of North Texas Health Science Center and Baylor College of Medicine) with the help of Dr. Alvin Holder, I was able to present my research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in 2017 and 2018.

My overall experience as a Biochemistry major, Biomedical Engineering minor on the

Pre-med track was eventful, humbling, and essential for my growth. I wouldn't change it for the world. Don't let one course or one bad experience deter you from your path.

I'm currently a Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, focusing on improving donor engraftment for Sickle Cell Disease Patients undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation. I'm also in the process of studying for the MCAT, hoping to enter an MD-PhD program by the fall of 2021. My goal is to become a Physician-Scientist and study Immunology and Infectious Disease

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