Sarah Thompson presents research for her thesis at the GVSU Student Scholars Day earlier this year.
Hazel Park High School Class of 2012
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, University of Michigan Class of 2016
Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology, Grand Valley State University, Anticipated 2018
How has the Promise Zone helped you achieve your goals?
The Promise Zone helped me when I was an undergraduate at Michigan. My personal financial experience included not having enough financial aid to cover the cost of tuition, and with the aid of Promise Zone, I was able to work out the financial expenses so that I could stay continuously enrolled. Being able to stay continuously enrolled kept me motivated to stay in school and helped prevent having a break in my studies, something that I believe is really important when it comes to school.
What do you envision yourself doing short term and long term?
Short term, I see myself finishing my Master’s program and applying to Neuroscience PhD programs across the country. Long term, I see myself finishing my PhD, and if necessary coming back to Michigan to do my Post-Doc, and then working in the Biotech Industry and starting a family.
I am excited to share this semester I was awarded the Presidential Grant through GVSU which includes a $1500 + $500 travel allowance. I will be presenting my research at the University of Michigan for the Michigan Society for Neuroscience Chapter meeting and in Washington D.C. for the National Society for Neuroscience Conference.
What made you decide upon this path?
When I was in high school I took AP chemistry with Ms. (Amy) Zitzelberger. Her passion for chemistry and the way she taught it made it so interesting, and I fell in love with it. I decided that I needed to study some field of chemistry, and I ended up with Biochemistry. Moving on to my Master’s I decided to focus on a slightly more macro scale, doing cell and molecular biology.
I've learned that I really enjoy research. I love testing new ideas, and being able to ask new questions is something important to me when it comes to what I do later on in life.
Why should someone give to the Promise Zone?
Everyone deserves the chance to pursue their dreams. You can’t control the socioeconomic status you are born into, but you can choose to do something about it. Choosing something to do about it isn’t always enough though, because in order to climb from the bottom to the top you need a ladder. The Promise Zone is that ladder.
What have you been involved with as a student?
Recently I have volunteered with AWiS (Association for Women in Science) at their Fall in Love with STEM event aimed at middle schoolers and at the MSU Brain Awareness Week Neuroscience Fair. As well, I recently participated in the 3-Minute Thesis competition at GVSU and took 2nd place.
Previously, my participation in the Michigan Marching Band and Hockey Band allowed me to travel for performances. With the Hockey Band, I performed at Soldier Field in Chicago and at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Through Marching Band, I was able to perform in East Lansing, South Bend, Columbus, and at the 2016 Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
What do you remember most vividly about your time at Hazel Park High School?
I remember the teachers who made a lasting impact on my life. Mrs. Gafa, Ms. Ericson, Ms. Z, Mr. Pogue, Mr. Ford, Mr. Elstone, and so many others. I learned many important life lessons and grew into the person I am today because of their guidance and support.
I think the most lasting impression is a lesson that Mr. Elstone taught me, and that was to “seek first to understand before being understood.” Whenever I am faced with conflict in my life, this has helped to guide me through.
What advice would you give to current Hazel Park students?
No matter what, you should do something after graduation. Go to college, go to tech school, learn a trade, serve in the armed forces, join the peace corps, just do SOMETHING. High school is the bare minimum, and you are all capable of more and owe it to yourselves to be all that you can be. If you are going to college I want you to know that it is hard. Learning how to manage your time is the best skill you can acquire to get you through school. Do not let your first failed exam or bad semester discourage you. Keep going, buckle down, work harder, and show those classes who is the boss. The reward will be worth it in the end, I promise.