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Indiana INTERNnet celebrated internship excellence on February 18 at the 14th Annual IMPACT Awards Luncheon. Though the event is over and the winners have been announced, we are continuing to celebrate the nominees’ successes.

These are their stories.

Olatundun Awosanya is a senior at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. She also completed an internship with Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

Indiana INTERNnet: Congrats on winning College Intern of the Year at our 2020 IMPACT Awards! Now that your internship is over, what are you up to these days?

Olatundun Awosanya: These days I am working hard to finish my last semester of college strong. Having to switch from a classroom setting to complete online schooling has definitely been a learning curve, but I feel like I have finally gotten adjusted to it. I am sad that there will not be a commencement ceremony to celebrate the accomplishment with my fellow classmates, but being healthy and staying safe is the top priority. After I graduate, I plan to continue working in the lab and at the same time I am looking into graduate programs that will allow me to be able to sustain myself even with a pandemic going on. I also plan and am in the process of acquiring new skills such as learning new programming languages and exploring my art skills since I will have more time to focus on myself.

IIN: What led you to choose to intern with IUPUI?

OA: I decided to intern at IUPUI mostly due to the suggestions from my friends and I wanted to be more involved on campus. I decided to apply to the Life-Health Sciences Internship (LHSI) program and applied to be in Dr. Kacena’s lab mostly because of my interest in the NASA project, but I loved the translational nature of the other projects. The project I had been working on the most has to do with fracture healing in Type 2 Diabetes. However, the data and results we get from this study can also be applied to fracture healing in general and with other metabolic diseases such as osteoporosis and aging in general.

IIN: Walk us through what some of your regular tasks were while interning at IUPUI. What was your favorite part about working with them?

OA: When I am in the lab some of my regular tasks include doing cell culture, doing RNA extractions, making cDNA, assisting with mouse surgeries, and handling mice in general. My favorite part in doing all these tasks is that they allow me to expand and better my skillset. Once I have done something a few times I try to think of ways to make the process more efficient. This would include labelling tubes if my samples are in the thermocycler or coming up with a plan and reviewing a protocol the day before I have to do a long day of cell culture work.

IIN: Tell us about a challenge you had to overcome during your internship.

OA: One challenge I have really had to overcome is having more confidence in myself and the skills I have acquired. I tend to overthink to an extreme which sometimes prevents me from moving forward because I am afraid of making a mistake. However, after I made my fair share of mistakes, I came to accept them and learned from them so such a mistake would not happen again. Therefore, being able to allow myself to make mistakes and grow from them has allowed me to increase my confidence in my work and has granted me the knowledge of forethought like I previously mentioned.

IIN: How has interning helped you in your personal/professional development?

OA: Interning has helped me immensely in my personal and professional development. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some really outstanding professionals and peers. It has also allowed to gain a better grasp of what it is like to work in a team and collaborating with other labs. I have also had many opportunities to present my research and have been able to meet and connect with students from all over the country.

IIN: How has winning Intern of the Year impacted you?

OA: Winning Intern of the Year has impacted me greatly. The fact that my lab nominated me for this award must mean that they see something in me that they deem commendable. I am delighted at the thought, but I just always try to do the best I can. It has made me realize that even I can make an impact on those around me even if I consider what I do as a small part in transformative research.

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