Hello everyone! My name is Alexa Sokhon and I am from Lebanon. I am an upcoming senior at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology with a minor in Medical Humanities. This summer, I had the prestigious opportunity to be a research intern with the Department of Surgery and J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center at the Houston Methodist Hospital. I worked alongside Dr. LaShara Davis and Dr. Amy Waterman, who leads the Patient Engagement, Disparities & Research Lab.
As an undergraduate research intern, I joined around the same time the lab was growing and employing new team members. I observed the process of hiring new members and the extent to which each team member contributed to the research. I also had the opportunity to shadow researchers during the manuscript writing process and submission. I was fascinated by the numerous important aspects of producing a publication.
During my internship, I assisted Dr. Davis with her Edutainment project. This project aims to develop a new interactive and educative method to enhance patient knowledge and education on kidney disease and transplants. With the help of Catherine Pulicken, the team’s Project Manager, I worked on literature reviews for the Edutainment project and Paired Kidney Donation projects. One of my favorite activities was learning how to code qualitative data using Quirkos! As a team member, I also assisted with developing social media campaigns and sharing news from the field articles on our social media accounts. For example, I assisted with social media posts on raising awareness of kidney transplantation and the disparities within the kidney transplant community.
In addition to research activities, I also edited surveys and presentations for the Department of Surgery’s new “Rising Stars” high school enrichment program. I met with the high school interns and talked about my undergraduate journey, ways to stay focused and organized, and the impact of journaling on my life. Dr. Davis and Dr. Waterman were always glad to help and gave me new and engaging opportunities.
During the last day of the internship, I had the honor to present a poster presentation at the Methodist Association of Postdoctoral and Trainee Affairs Symposium (MAPTA). It was incredible to share my research experience with others and to learn about what others worked on during their internship.
Through this internship, I gained more insight into the field of clinical research, and specifically, learned more about kidney disease, kidney transplants, and health disparities that many communities face within the healthcare system. I am so excited that I was able to be a part of this lab to help raise awareness of healthcare disparities and inequities within the transplant field. I would like to thank Dr. Davis, Dr. Waterman, and Catherine Pulicken for their guidance and support throughout my internship.