While many students look forward to a summer in the sun, one Texas State student will be spending her’s in the medical laboratory.
Rachel Johnson, clinical laboratory science junior, is the first Texas State student to be selected nationally to participate in the Mayo Clinic Summer Laboratory Science Program.
After hearing about the program in December from Rodney E. Rohde, clinical laboratory science professor, Johnson applied with low expectations. She cried happy tears when she found out in March, she was one of 32 students across the nation who were selected to participate in the program.
“I had mentally prepared myself not to get it because of how great of an opportunity this is,” Johnson said. “It’s going to show me a new aspect of the lab, and the exposure is going to be awesome.”
Johnson was a sophomore when she decided clinical laboratory science was where her future awaited. She decided after shadowing a lab tech in the St. David’s clinical lab in Austin, Texas. She plans on becoming a professional in a medical laboratory like a hospital, public health lab or reference lab.
Johnson said she often spends her summers relaxing, but for this one, she will drive to Minnesota and get the chance to work alongside others in a lab. She has never been to Minnesota or moved somewhere new.
Texas State clinical laboratory students do not get to conduct laboratory tests on human samples and specimen until their final year during clinical rotations before graduating. Johnson will get this opportunity two summers early, putting her multiple steps ahead.
The program functions as a paid job, starting in early June. Orientation for the students spans across ten weeks as an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job with weekends off.
Students will gain hands-on experience inside one of the most esteemed hospitals. The Mayo Clinic is the number one hospital overall, according the U.S News and World Report Rankings.
Johnson said she looks up to Rohde, her professor and current adviser. She appreciates the fact he was once in her position and can provide helpful advice.
Rohde said he is extremely excited for Johnson and looks forward to the kind of opportunities coming her way. He said Johnson has a great attitude toward her studies, especially for pursuing such a rigorous major.
“Going to the Mayo Clinic will open doors for future careers and I imagine she will be at the head of her class in understanding clinical testing,” Rohde said. “It will take her career wise into places she never dreamed about.”
After being granted this summer opportunity, Johnson is considering studying abroad in the coming year. Her goal is to eventually be a traveling clinical laboratory scientist going abroad to witness different cultural aspects of her field.
Heather Hansen, clinical laboratory science junior, has been able to work with Johnson in the classroom and was thrilled when she learned her peer received this opportunity.
“She’s that person who is always really positive and smiling,” Hansen said. “She’s very determined in her work space and this is a great opportunity for her.”
Rohde and faculty are awaiting to hear what skills and experience Johnson will come back with. She has an intense yet exciting summer ahead of her and it will all contribute to her bright future. Johnson knows she can dream big and work toward endless goals.