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Reflections from a Scholar: Vaishvik Vidavalapati

My experience attending the Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) field trip on February 4, 2023, has enlightened me in ways I had never expected. Before I even stepped foot into the building, I was pondering the question I would have to answer in this blog post: “What did I learn on this trip?” I believed that my main lesson learned would have encompassed the specific inner workings of the building that allured me, and even though these were incredibly fascinating, the most impactful thing that stuck with me even after the trip was much simpler, yet significant.

When I was in elementary school, a recurring question that would be asked to my class was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Over the years, my want-to-be career changed many times, from an aerospace engineer to a musician to a scientist, I found myself having many interests. However, with many interests came many difficulties in finding the career I wanted to pursue. Being in the Academy for Health and Medical Sciences, I have been asked on many occasions, “So you want to be a doctor, right?”, but I’ve never really known if I wanted to be one or not. I just knew that I like science, and that was about it, while many people around me have already seemed to figure themselves out. Therefore, seeing all of the speakers at BMS talk about the changes in their career-related interests over time and the ability to connect different interests into a career, I was amazed at the “squiggly path of the career journey” that the speakers resonated with. As cliché as it may sound, it reassured me that it was okay to not know what to do in the future and not have everything sorted out.

Aside from this, through my experiences as a Governor’s STEM Scholar, I have developed a new interest in medical research. Collaborating with my research team on our project, as laboratory research is relatively new to me, I have found it to be very fun and enlightening. Exploring the workings of BMS on the tour has inspired me to delve deeper into the field of medical research, perhaps particularly into that of pharmacology, something I haven’t looked into previously.

Overall, I am glad I was able to be a part of the Bristol-Myers Squibb field trip, as it has sparked new interests in me and increased my confidence in finding a career I am passionate about.

Written by Vaishvik Vidavalapati

2022-2023 Scholar

Vaishvik Vidavalapati is a sophomore in the Academy of Health and Medical Sciences at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School. At his school, he has been the President of the Connect4Cancer club for a year and has been promoted from Freshman Event Coordinator to Vice President of the UNICEF club. He is also an Event Leadership Team Member for Relay For Life of Old Bridge and a Team Captain for Relay For Life of Bridgewater. During his time in Georgetown University’s Medical Research: Clinical Trials Resulting in Medical Discoveries pre-college program, he conducted comparative research on the effects of manual lymphatic drainage and photobiomodulation therapy as treatments for breast cancer-related lymphedema. He won a silver medal in the 2022 SkillsUSA State Competition in Related Technical Math and won third place in a Fembot Robotics hackathon where he proposed a treatment for the COVID-19 virus. In his free time, his hobbies include investing in stocks, vocal music, and Bollywood dance. Due to his experiences in cancer-related fundraising and interest in biology and clinical research, he is particularly interested in oncology. Therefore, in the future, he hopes to help those affected by cancer in the fields of medicine and research.

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