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Reflections from a Scholar: Claire Jiang

Ethan A. Halm, MD, Professor of Medicine and the Vice Chancellor for Population Health at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences speaking during the panel on STEM in Academia

Entering the Frick Chemistry Laboratory at Princeton University, Scholars are immediately surrounded by a feeling of awe. Light pours through the windows and illuminates the Princeton orange tables. Machines quietly hum in the background as academics are working away at their latest experiments. In the midst of all this, some Scholars were motivated, while others may have felt the overwhelming pressure to forge their careers.

In our society today, the increasing amount of pressure to get into top colleges and create the “perfect” career path only falls heavier and heavier onto high schoolers. However, during the most recent STEM in Academia conference, Scholars were told a different message by esteemed academics: “take a breather.”

The STEM in Academia Panel during this conference included six academics with years of

experience and knowledge to guide their advice towards the Governor STEM Scholars. While their careers and passions were intriguing, when asked about advice for success in their careers, many of the panelists shared the same message. Ethan A. Halm, MD, Professor of Medicine and the Vice Chancellor for Population Health at Rutgers Biomedical and Health

Sciences, acknowledged the increasing amount of stress that young people face and gave

Scholars an important word of advice: “where you go is not who you are.” Tobias Gerhard,

Ph.D., Director, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research Director, Center for Pharmacoepidemiology and Treatment Science and Professor, Ernest Mario

School of Pharmacy, added on by stating that Scholars should be mindful of their character, as those who are genuine and kind go much further in life than those who are not.

In spite of their great accomplishments in life, this group of panelists touched upon the humanity of being in academia and the importance of prioritizing one’s self worth and mental health in this part of the STEM world. Scholars were shown the significance of enjoying the little things in life while also appreciating the joys and curiosities that they find in their STEM journey. Even with this abundance of knowledge and academia surrounding the Scholars throughout each trip we make, they find themselves learning not only about STEM subjects, but also about the social world around us and how we can apply that to our own paths.

David MacMillan, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University, Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University and a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, brings home this theme: “The greatest wealth you can have in life is to be around your friends, your family, and laugh. You cannot buy that, and it is incredibly important to keep that with you throughout all your endeavors.”

Written by Claire Jiang, 2024 Scholar

Claire Jiang is a sophomore in the Academy for Medical Science Technology at the Bergen County Academies. As a dedicated advocate for the communities in the area, Claire has completed over 100 volunteer hours with the Junior Medical Program at Mount Sinai Morningside. In this program, she has supported numerous patients and staff members at the hospital by implementing employee wellness initiatives and building meaningful relationships. She also has participated in the Research Scholars Program created by Harvard Student Agencies and Learn with Leaders to produce a paper investigating the impacts of fruits on Rheumatoid Arthritis. Claire's interest in arthritis persists as she is currently involved in cellular biology research at BCA with a focus on Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. In the future, Claire hopes to become a leader in her community through her work in the medical field by advocating for others and creating impactful change. Outside of STEM related subjects, Claire is also an avid member of the Model UN community at BCA, having chaired at the Junior Academy Model UN Conference and winning awards at conferences. She is also a current student at the Manhattan School of Music Precollege and majoring in classical piano.


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