Angela Albrecht, Biology
Class of 2016
Angela Albrecht had never planned on studying the sciences. Having come from an artistic family, she attended the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts with the intention of pursuing a singing career. When she became a Dual Enrollment student at NCC during her senior year, however, everything changed. A psychology class with Professor Virginia Gonzalez piqued her interest in exploring what else NCC had to offer, and soon she was doing a 180-degree turn in her thoughts on what the future might hold.
"I put aside all these years of education in music, and it was like a blank slate. I looked at NCC's course catalog, and once I found psychology and fell in love with it, I knew that's not where the road would end," says Albrecht. "I thought NCC would be a great stepping stone into figuring out which area of science I wanted to go into. I loved the brain and I liked neuroscience, and then when I decided that I wanted to major in biology is when I found out about the SMaRT Scholars program."
The packet that Albrecht had received in the mail about they program provided her with a potential opportunity to get to know some of her new classmates, so after making a few calls to find out more about the program, she took a chance and applied. Once she was accepted, the first activity that she took part in was a two-day summer retreat at the Bethlehem and Monroe campuses.
"That gets you to feel more familiar with people, and so on the first day of school, I ended up knowing a lot of my classmates. Now, they're in my study groups and I see them on campus and recognize them. They were my first friends when I first came here," says Albrecht. "We also have SMaRT Scholar meetings, and those meetings are really the glue that holds the program together. There's always a person coming to speak, or a discussion, or a focal point of the meeting. They're giving you advice and tips that are relevant to you at that point in the semester."
Albrecht is currently taking part in the BioConnect program at Lehigh University, working with the "Lehigh in the Sea Phages" class to isolate phages, study their DNA, and then see if the DNA is applicable to curing tuberculosis. She's also going to be doing a summer internship at Lehigh's Biosystems Dynamics Summer Institute where she'll be working on projects that revolve around the faculty and students' interests. She knows her participation at Lehigh would be impossible without her involvement in the SMaRT Scholars program, and very much appreciates how interdisciplinary each of these opportunities is.
"The STEM realm is wonderful and it gives you a lot of opportunity to make an impact as technology evolves. You can do research and get really involved," says Albrecht. "A lot of people don't know how much work it is, but if you're even slightly drawn to it, take the chance but be prepared to give it the effort. I try to imagine what it would be like to not be part of this program, and I would be entirely lost. It's really nice to have that direction and also make you feel like you're a part of something."