Hood College Graduate School student receives Boren Fellowship award

Nicole EaselyNicole Easley, a student in Hood College Graduate School’s Masters in Biomedical Science program recently received the National Security Education Program’s Boren Fellowship Award. Nicole will travel to Brazil to learn Portuguese while simultaneously conducting infectious disease research. Nicole says she owes this accomplishment wholly to Hood College. Read her story below.

I’m a native of Denver, Colorado but grew up in Montgomery County, MD. I graduated from Colorado State University in 2006 with a BS in Microbiology. As an undergraduate, I did a work-study in a tuberculosis research lab in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. I was able to get summer research fellowships through the American Society of Microbiology, Leadership Alliance, and the Ronald E. McNair Fellowship.

After completing my undergraduate degree, I moved back to the DC area and worked at the National Institutes of Health in the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases for Dr. Susan Buchanan in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology doing structural biology research and x-ray crystallography. My research there contributed to two publications in the top-tier science journal Nature and one in the Journal of Molecular Biology.

After teaching English in Brazil, I returned to the States and began Hood’s Biomedical Science Program in spring 2015, and worked as a Lab Technician for an Immunohistochemistry Lab at Covance. My second year at Hood I took a full-time course load since I knew that I wanted to study abroad for one year before I finished the Master’s program.

In January 2016 I applied for the Boren Fellowship Award. The fellowship provides funding for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, if the student commits to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

My proposal was for a program proposal tied to US national security. Specifically, going to Brazil to learn Portuguese and researching infectious disease research as Ebola and Zika viruses are threats to US national security, as threats to public health and the economy. I utilized the contacts I made through my career, networks I made while in Brazil as an English teacher, and the BMS faculty at Hood College to help design a research proposal.

I was accepted in February and had to start my program in Brazil by March 15th. The BMS faculty at Hood has been most helpful in allowing me to accept this fellowship award in the middle of the semester.

For big opportunities like this, don’t psyche yourself out before you get started. Go for it! Talk to the faculty in your program ask them for recommendations, referrals and research project ideas. Look at the topic you’d like to research and understand the current events and how it applies to national security. Networking is key. Start the application process early. Make your application stand out from the thousands that apply.

Hood College is the reason I got this fellowship. I’m so thankful I chose the Masters in Biomedical Science program at Hood.