From Education to Biomedical Science

SUTThnOz_400x400For Hood College Biomedical (BMS) Alum, Dan Kordella, starting the BMS degree was not a straightforward decision. After graduating from high school in 1991, Dan’s journey led him to a year in college, joining army, resuming his studies several years later and graduating with a BS in Biology in 2005. Afterwards, he decided to become a full-time biology teacher. Taking a few teaching theory and psychology classes made him decide to forego the chance to earn a Master’s degree in Education as he “realized that teaching science was never going to be as satisfying to me as I imagined it would”. Ultimately, Dan decided to come to Hood College and start his BMS degree in part time capacity. As someone who had family, full time teaching job and wanted a high-quality education – Hood’s Graduate School was a perfect choice. Also, “Hood’s tuition was very manageable, even with Fairfax County’s austere tuition reimbursement and my teacher’s salary”, adds Dan.

Even though Dan was the only person in his classes who did not have a lab-related job, and was still not familiar with all of the technologies and associated jargon, he started to adapt quickly. In 2012, Dan attended a presentation on HIV at Hood College, and found it very intriguing. The presentation was given by Hood Alum, Mary Kearney, and Dan managed to connect with her and begun volunteering in Mary’s lab at the National Cancer Institute that summer. In 2016, Dan started his current position at the Vaccine Research Center in cell line development, “…screening for a handful of cell lines producing acceptable titers of high quality monoclonal antibodies from an initial pool of millions of cells that I transfected.” Dan group’s work also extends to potentially immunogenic proteins and virus-like particles as well as work with automation and flow cytometry.

Dan’s advice for Hood students: “going part time can be a grind, perhaps more for those not currently working in a lab and especially for those that are pursuing the mock grant instead of the thesis option.” With the mock grant, and the additional number of lab credits that must be earned, finding the will and enthusiasm to stay current in your studies and be motivated for exams, can indeed become challenging. Dan’s advice is not to take time off but to get through your core classes as quickly as you can. “Stretching a potential 2.5 year program into a seven years is emotionally and intellectually exhausting”, says Dan. Even though the mock grant project took a lot of time and effort, the final presentation (defense) to the committee was one of the proudest accomplishments in Dan’s career.