By Alice Yang, Intern
When I applied to become an undergraduate research assistant at TREC/TIBI, I had the opportunity to tour the lab and meet with everyone in person. Walking through the glass doors and into the high ceiling of the main lobby for the first time, I couldn’t believe that soon I would get to be part of the research team working under Dr. Waterman to help educate others about the benefits of living donations. Yet, only a couple of days later, all of that shattered when it was announced that the remainder of the year would have to be remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I began my work at home in the Bay Area, instead of at a desk in the office. I hopped into zoom calls instead of conference rooms, trying to learn how the lab worked through my laptop screen. Despite all these caveats, I am amazed at how much I was able to learn, grow, and inspire in these past 10 months at TREC.
The most impactful moment for me was when I had the opportunity to attend Dr. Waterman’s talk, “The Power of Digital Storytelling,” at the ASHI 2020 Virtual Annual Conference. Throughout her talk, not only did it become clear to me how important her research was to her, but the constant stream of chat messages that were flooding in made it evident how much our research was changing the lives of patients and families around the world. Even though I was sitting alone at my desk in my apartment in LA, I could feel the support and gratitude from everyone who was sharing their stories and thank you messages around the world. It became clear to me in those 60 minutes that the research I was participating in was affecting and changing the lives of real people for the better.
It has truly been an honor to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing team these past few months and to continue Dr. Terasaki’s legacy of serving transplant patients. I know that having this opportunity to not only learn about patient education but to participate in finding ways to improve it, will be crucial in my future endeavors in medical school and beyond. I hope to continue working with TREC/TIBI for the remainder of my undergraduate career and I look forward to all of the work we will undoubtedly accomplish in the future.