Q: What have you been doing after graduation and how did that come about?
A staffing agency set me up with an interview. I started as a temp through the staffing agency. It was supposed to be a 6-month work contract, but my company bought it out three months early and hired me. As of October of 2012 I have started training as a clinical scientist — where I am learning various scientific methodologies and how these are applied in diagnostic medicine.
Q: How are you using what you learned at Biola?
Unfortunately I have to tell all the students in analytical chemistry that that is a benchmark class — for clinical medicine, everything is about standards and plots and determining unknown concentrations — how much of your analyte is in a specimen — it is cool to see how all the time learning about HPLC or GC is paying off as these are still popular techniques.
Cell lab was valuable — writing a standard operating procedure, learning how to write a technical piece of literature, taking into account the background of the procedure, materials data sheets, and safety. I recently helped write an SOP for our NMR instrument. The Cell exams were audits, and that is something that happens in the laboratory field all the time — an outside person comes in and questions everything you did and doesn’t want you looking at your notes. Even though it is intimidating, that is something that happens in the real world.
And documentation. It is a huge thing — especially when you are working with patients. If you mess something up and scribble it out instead of drawing a single line through it and signing and dating it, people will think you are hiding something. It wasn’t great when we were in the middle of it in our lab classes, but we couldn’t take the notebooks out of the lab – and now, with patient-sensitive stuff, we don’t take that home. I took my notebook in for my interview and showed them – my biochemistry notebook.
Biochemistry, and maybe genetics, too, if you want to go into medical technology, are important classes, as they teach important techniques — protein purification, ELISA, restriction digests, and PCR- huge things. And I think that the classes at Biola were intense enough that we worked as a group. In the lab when trouble shooting or problem solving you have others as resources too.
One of the things I learned from the job is that work ethic and integrity are really important. It is easy to teach somebody the right answer, but it isn’t easy to teach somebody not to cheat and to follow the directions. One of the things I hear from my boss is, “he works hard and we never question his results.” I think that is something that I learned at Biola, as well. Biola as an institute helps is about helping its students be successful not only in the classroom but in the world.
Q: What was the best thing about Biola? The worst?
Analytical chemistry was not the best… but if I had not taken that class I could not get into the training internship that I currently am in. That is the class that differentiates biology students from chemistry students. Where I am, chemistry is more versatile — we have more departments that you can work in. There are about ten different departments that I could work in.
The best part of Biola? I think the campus life. Living with people, going to meals together — I wouldn’t say the appeal of campus activities, but meeting with people, floor activities, and dorm activities. Being mentored and cared for by some of the best people. It was at Biola that I became more self aware and how to be a leader. Worst part? I have to pay it back now… but I have no regrets. It can be a little isolated from the outside world, but for a time in your life it is OK to be secluded and in a bubble.
Q: Do you have advice for current students?
Well, to do what I am doing now, we have paid internships every summer. The summer internship exposes you to some of the stuff that goes on there. There aren’t very many schools in the area that offer specific licensing programs for this work — UCI has a medical technology program and a couple of Cal State schools have programs. A biochemistry degree is preparation for these. And there is a high demand for this work.
Q: What is God teaching you since you left college?
Just this week I was listening to a sermon on that passage in 2 Cor. 12 that is sometimes translated as “Christ’s strength is perfected in your weakness." It's how we are brought to an end of our strength — because only there — at the end of your rope — is Christ's strength seen. That is something that I have learned since leaving Biola — not living on campus, the sense of community is really depleted, at best you are living with a couple of people, not twenty guys on your floor, and where you are going to church and who you are fellowshipping with is really important. This is where I would stress finding a church that is home where you can serve and be cared for too. Those are the hardest things — and making it in the real world. Some days it is easy to love people at work, and sometimes it is a little bit of a challenge. But I think a place like Biola prepares you for the challenges of the post college life. Good things can't be held onto forever, you have to hold them with open hands.