STEM Scholars | WiSE
Name: Stephanie Perez
Graduation Term: Spring 2021
Major: Cellular and Molecular Biology
CSI3 Undergraduate Program: STEM Scholars and WISE
Hobbies: Hiking, gardening and trying new food
What is your current status?
I’m currently working as a Research Assist in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where I do research on SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), influenza (Flu), RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and other viral pathogens. I also research virus transmission, infection susceptibility, and disease severity of multiple viruses within our community.
What do you enjoy the most about your current status?
What I enjoy the most about my current job is that I am exposed to a variety of laboratory, research, public health and medical skills. With the pandemic, along with the increase in covid testing, our lab has allowed me to contribute to free accessible testing and provide free results to children, breastfeeding mothers, and to all the community. In addition, I am being given the opportunity to educate and interact with patients regarding the COVID-19 vaccine while performing laboratory experiments and conducting my own research projects.
If you could give your junior/senior year self any words of advice what would you say?
If I could give any advice to myself during my junior year or senior year, it would be to get involved in research. Any internships or volunteering opportunities you can find, take them, because this allows you to be more comfortable and feel more confident when you are exposed to a real STEM job.
What has been one of the biggest lessons you have learned upon graduating?
Life will not always turn out like you expected and it's okay! Some of my dreams have come true. Some of them have been a work in progress, but God has used both to mold me into the person I have become, so embrace each season. Every challenge you face or obstacle you face, make it better. I remember driving away from college with tears streaming down my face and thinking of all the wonderful people who played an important role, such as Gaby, Dr. Wang, Dr. Chun, Dr. Kram, Dr. Theiss, Dr. Singhal and everyone in the Biology Department.
What keeps you motivated and positive throughout life’s hardships?
Life for me has been a roller coaster and I have learned from my mistakes. The key is to learn from them, keep moving forward, and learn to make plans. You are never ready if you do not try. In my personal experience, I thought I had everything planned and I thought I knew what I wanted to do after college but unfortunately. I did not. However, I have learned that it’s okay to talk to previous mentors, academic counselors, professors, or friends who can be there to support you and guide you. I am the type of person that I like to write down and plan my goals. It has helped me to think through the entire process from beginning to end and evaluate my progress. Am I happy where I am, am I growing and learning. These are some types of questions I ask myself that have helped me figure out what I want as my career goals.
Is there anyone from the CSI3 program you would like to thank or give a shout out to?
Shout out to Alexandra and Noemi for being so kind and supportive throughout my undergraduate career. You girls mean so much to me and made my senior year so memorable. Noemi you always pushed us to do better and I appreciate your positive talks. In addition, thank you to the CSI3 Program for always having printers available for me to print my long study guides and lectures and for having snacks available when I was hungry. Lastly, I would love to thank Dr. Hamdan for supporting my research funding. He was able to provide support to me in my research in Dr. Wang’s lab.
Updated on 10/12/21