Education News 14 Van Andel Research Institute Gives Bright Young Researchers Invaluable Experiences While assisting her parents in the care of her special needs brother, Eboni White developed a strong desire to improve the quality of life for others. This desire helped her discover a passion for science that would guide her educational journey. Eboni graduated from Forest Hills Northern High School in May 2013 in the top 10% of her class. During her senior year, Eboni won a coveted federal grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through their Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) program. This program exists for high school juniors and seniors who are interested in conducting scientific research professionally. Eboni received a funded eight-week research internship at the institute of her choice, Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). Eboni spent her summer internship under the advisement of Dr. Anthony Chang in the Laboratory of Translational Imaging and MSU Ph.D. candidate Jelani Zarif in the Integrin Signaling & Tumorigensis department served as Eboni’s peer mentor. “I learned how to properly conduct research and what questions a good researcher must be able to answer,” Eboni said. “I learned not only the material, but also how to think critically and apply that to the scientific journals and articles I read.” Eboni was inspired by the researchers. “There is no one in my family who has a Ph.D., and Give Your Feedback and Win Red Wings T-shirts! Eboni White was an intern in the Laboratory of Translational Imaging during summer 2013. talking to Jelani made me realize that if he can do it, I can do it, too.” “From my first interactions with her, I could tell immediately that Eboni was very bright and eager about biomedical research. Her project was technically challenging, yet, despite this, she persevered,” Jelani said. “I am glad that I had the opportunity to be her peer mentor, and I was touched that my interactions with her this summer helped her realize that she could too obtain a Ph.D. in biomedical science.” Upon completion of the internship, Eboni traveled to the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, to present her research findings to fellow students, staff and research scientists at the annual National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) Research Symposium. Her presentation, “Preparation of nanogoldliposomes for theranostic application,” received outstanding scores. “The exposure I got at Van Andel Institute has confirmed to me that I want to pursue a major in bioengineering,” Eboni said. Thanks to the educational focus at VARI, the scientists of the future are receiving invaluable training, education, and experience to fuel new discoveries for generations. Highlights of Hope is the primary publication of Van Andel Institute. We want your help in creating future issues! Tell us about your favorite articles, features and more in our short online survey. Visit www.vai.org/survey2013 to participate. Completed surveys will have a chance to win VAI swag! Questions about Highlights of Hope? Contact Van Andel Institute’s Development Department at 616.234.5120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purple Community Leadership Academy Draws Community Leaders for Educational Seminar Participation in Purple Community grass roots fundraising events not only benefits Van Andel Institute’s efforts, but the event organizers gain valuable life skills, too. With the creation of the Purple Community Leadership Academy, organizers had a valuable opportunity to hone their skills for future events, life goals and more. The inaugural Purple Community Leadership Academy took place on October 2 and hosted more than 200 teachers, students, community, business leaders and philanthropists. Attendees participated in a day-long educational seminar learning about marketing, teamwork, communications, finances, and more. All of the sessions provided valuable skills for success in Purple Community, the classroom, workplace and community. Sessions at the Leadership Academy featured prominent philanthropic and business leaders including Van Andel Institute, Chairman and CEO, David Van Andel and Carol Van Andel. Attendees also took the stage to share their experiences during poster presentations that featured past Purple Community fundraising events, and awards were presented to several groups for their outstanding fundraising accomplishments. Learn more about the Purple Community Leadership Academy and view pictures from the event on the Purple Community Facebook page at https://www. facebook.com/PurpleVAI. Learn more about upcoming purple community events at vai.org/purplecommunity Purple Community event participants at Forest Hills Central 15