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Jan. 20, 2021

Student view: Piecing together my knowledge puzzle

Racheal Nassimbwa

Racheal Nassimbwa is a senior majoring in medical laboratory science with a double minor in global public health and epidemiology and health promotion. She is an Honors College student and a Dean’s Research Scholar in the College of Natural Science. She hails from Kampala, Uganda. This story was originally featured on the College of Natural Science website.

I started college with a then “well-thought out” plan of joining medical school right after completing my undergraduate studies. I knew I had to do very well in all my classes to stand a chance at fulfilling this plan.

However, my classes opened me up to more adventures and a strong yearning for more knowledge. I remember talking to one of my professors about my excitement for my major classes, and she told me that as I continued with my classes, it would be like putting together a puzzle with the knowledge from each class. She emphasized that, “You will get all these snippets of knowledge from each individual class, and when you piece them all together, it will make sense.”

I have since created and filled out my knowledge puzzle, using information from all my classes, ranging from the general education classes to my major core classes, and this has made my learning process more enjoyable and productive. In my search for piecing everything together, I have worked on unique research projects and have translated the theoretical knowledge from my classes into practical science skills, which has helped me identify my career interests and get a better sense of direction for my next steps after graduation.

I had an opportunity to conduct research at one of the International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research laboratories — the Malaria Alert Center in Blantyre, Malawi — where I worked on a project to develop a quantitative assay for measuring parasite load among malaria infected patients. This enriching experience was my turning point, and I knew that I wanted to continue conducting research in infectious diseases and public health.

I’ve continued my research pursuits at MSU and have since worked on a research project in HIV, where I participated in research about transmission patterns and vaccine development. My years spent in a research laboratory is one of my top experiences at Michigan State, and one of the most important as I pursue a career in human medicine and healthcare.

Through my diversified Spartan experiences and the knowledge snippets I have acquired during my time at MSU — ranging from my classes, research work, student organizations and other extracurricular activities — I have been inspired to choose a career path. I plan to go to graduate school and continue education in infectious diseases and public health in order to work with communities that are disproportionately affected by high disease burden.

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