Sophina Taitano Receives Academic Prize, Accepted to Doctoral Program in Immunology

Senior Sophina Taitano, a Forensic Sciences Major with minors in Chemistry and Biology, was recently awarded Chaminade’s highest academic honor, the President Sue Wesselkamper Prize. She was one of two recipients in 2013.

Sophina will graduate Magna Cum Laude this May. A native Chamoritta from Guam, Sophina has been accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan and will study immunology.

In 2011 she was accepted into the Endocrine Society’s Minority Access Program. This gave her the opportunity to complete two summers of research at mainland universities. Sophina gives a short description of the her areas of research in this clip:

Sophina has worked with mentors on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus researching cancer cell biology, and the University of California, San Diego researching hormones & the pituitary gland. Sophina has presented her work from both summers at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in 2011 and 2012.  She received the Presentation Award in the Cancer Biology category for an exemplary poster presentation at the 2011 conference.  She has also presented at the Endocrine Society’s meeting in 2012 and will present her latest research work there this June.

Sophina and other students in the life sciences receive assistance with research internships from professor Jolene Cogbill, Coordinator, Academic Enrichment and Outreach Programs in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

After completing her Ph.D., Sophina plans to eventually return to Guam to enrich the science programs at the University of Guam to give the students greater opportunities for expanding their horizons.

Sophina is the daughter of Elizabeth Horne and Joseph Taitano and the youngest of six siblings.

The Sue Wesselkamper prize is made possible by the generous support of Henry and Charlotte Clark and is given annually to recognize and encourage student scholarship and build the tradition of the annual Na Liko Na’auao student scholarship day.

Ashley Baldauf ’12 Accepted to Innovative Medical School Program

Ashley Baldauf graduated with a degree in Forensic Sciences last fall and will begin an innovative medical school education this July at A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona.

The AT Still program begins on the Arizona campus for the first year, and then students move to one of 11 special community health center-based campuses across the country to finish their training with CHC faculty.

Students learn in small group settings, learning clinical presentations, observing patient care, and gaining an understanding of the local health system and community health practices. Later, students complete their clinical rotations at their community health center, in associated hospitals, as well as with affiliated healthcare providers at select healthcare institutions.

The centers are a boon to the communities they serve and help students develop a focus on patient care in underserved communities. Ashley will graduate as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.

Ashley was thrilled to discover that one of the 11 centers is Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, where she will spend years 2,3, and 4 of her training. She will be in a class of only 10 students at Waianae. She is looking forward to staying close to home and family, but also says, “I want to make a difference in the community”.

People have fears of not succeeding. I tell them, you CAN do it, have faith in yourself, don’t let anyone downgrade you or tell you who you are. Don’t tell yourself that you won’t do well because you can do well.

Ashley herself is a graduate of Waipahu High School, and is hoping to be an inspiration to her relatives and friends from her hometown to dream big and make a difference too.

“I really encourage people from my high school to go to Chaminade; I talk to my brothers too.
People have fears of not succeeding. I tell them, you CAN do it, have faith in yourself, don’t let anyone downgrade you or tell you who you are. Don’t tell yourself that you won’t do well because you can do well.”

“I want to have a future, for my family. I am the first one to get a college degree in my family.”

Ashley worked with Chaminade’s Office of Health Professions Advising and Undergraduate Research to plan for a career in medicine. It was through the office that she learned about the opportunity with AT Still University. Ashley firmly believes that the close relationship with instructors and the extra attention she was able to receive at Chaminade have helped her succeed:

“I wasn’t a chemistry fan until I took chemistry. It opened my eyes to what is possible. Joel Kawakami is a great teacher, a great advisor; he encouraged me. At Chaminade, there are a lot of partnerships with institutions on the mainland, and a lot of research going on here too. There is always the opportunity to do something. Going to the conferences, such as ABRCMS, helped to build my confidence. You can’t be shy about presenting your research!”

“The special thing here is that the faculty at Chaminade wants you to succeed. There is always help.“

Chaminade Projects Stand Out In National Research

Highlight

Five Student Biology Researchers Honored at ABRCMS Conference
The awards just kept coming for Chaminade University student researchers at a gala dinner held this fall in San Jose, California. All told, 5 Chaminade students (out of 14 Chaminade students attending) were honored with a prize for their research efforts at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) national conference. The five accepted prizes in front of 1,600 undergraduate and graduate researchers from colleges across the nation.

Chaminade Students Mata’uitafa Faiai (Biology major), Mary DeVita (Biology major), Anthony Junker (Biology major), Alyssa Dixon (Biology major), and Katie Shewbart (Forensic Sciences major),were honored at the conference.

This gathering of over 1600 young STEM undergraduates, as well as prestigious graduate school and nationally-recognized researchers, sets the standard in recognition and resumé-building for those students who intend to enter PhD programs or medical school following their graduation.

Chaminade biosciences majors work with faculty mentors on projects at the university or with mentors at prestigious research institutions on the mainland, serving as interns in the summer.

“Research is such an integral part of our curriculum and enrichment experience for Chaminade majors in biology, biochemistry and forensics,” explained Helen Turner, Ph.D., Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Chaminade, “and to see their hard work recognized at the national level is fantastic.”

Their awards energize the program. Biology undergraduate Christina Linares said that now it’s time to get back to work: “I can’t wait to get back in the lab, get back on the microscope and start working towards next year’s conference.”

Fourteen Chaminade University student scientists attended the event, held in San Jose, Calif.

More about Biology and Biochemistry degrees at Chaminade