Adventures, Science, Life Lessons, and Growing

Wow, it is really hard to believe that this is my last blog post as I finish up my Mitchell Year. As I sit down to write about the highlights since my last blog post, I am overcome with an immense sense of growth, self-knowing, and gratitude.

The adventures: Outside of my coursework and lab-work, I have taken every opportunity to get out into the country and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me. Below, I have attached some snaps from my favorite adventures: Glendalough in Wicklow, the Antrim coast, Giant’s Causeway, Belfast, Glenstal Abbey, and in and around Dublin.

Out of all of these adventures, climbing the mountains of Wicklow were incredibly special. I love hiking and physical challenges, and I have found that hiking through the mountains of Glendalough taught me many things that are reflective of my experience in Ireland: (1) Appreciate the incredible beauty of what surrounds me; (2) The view is always stunning at the top of any summit, but the climb is often just as – if not more – beautiful; (3) you can connect with people everywhere.

On point #1, Ireland by far is the most beautiful country I have ever been in. I see the beauty of nature everywhere, and that is a learned skill that I am excited to take with me wherever I go. From the wildflowers that bloom in the courtyard of St. James’s hospital to the stunning landscape of Glendalough, nature has been truly nourishing to my soul.

On point #2, growth and “climbing” any mountain (mental, physical, or professional) can be daunting and we are so often looking forward to getting to the top. However, all of my hiking has reminded me that the climb can be just as beautiful and to cherish every moment. While this is an easy task to do in a place as gorgeous as Wicklow, I think its a lesson that can be applied on any life journey.

And point #3, no matter what country we are from, our humanity unites us. During the course of my hikes or my day to day life, I have found myself talking to fellow hikers or Dublin city-folk every single day. You never know how much a smile or a simple conversation can teach you and make you feel connected to your location. I have met people from all over the world with many different life experiences. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or chat or make friends in new environments!

The science: My program has been extremely rigorous, but extremely rewarding. My research has now contributed to the development of a new biomarker (called C3) for esophageal cancer (this is what my dissertation work is on)!

I also will have a published first-author literature review getting published in Cancer Letters this summer. Something I am most proud of however, is helping to establish a formal research collaboration between Duke-Trinity-and UCD. I was fortunate enough to receive a Mitchell Scholarship, my mentors were able to meet and form a research collaboration that has now received funding from the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. I can now say for certain that I will be traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Ireland for years to come as I would with my collaborators.

I feel so grateful to have met incredible mentors and students, and have had the opportunity to develop lifelong friendships and relationships.

The Mitchells: Every time I have been around any of the Mitchell Scholars I am always in awe of how brilliant, kind, and interesting everyone is. Although it is bittersweet to be leaving the island soon, I can’t wait to watch what everyone accomplishes with their precious lives and bright minds, and desire to do good in the world. It inspires me more than they can every know.

While I will be preparing to apply to medical school in the coming months, and I don’t yet know where the road ahead will take me, I know that a piece of me will be in Ireland for the rest of my life, and I will be back. I am filled with so much gratitude, and when I look back on my life, this will be one of the experiences that shaped me the most.

Thank you to Trina and everyone who helps run the Mitchell program, I owe this chapter of my life story to you!

Until next time, Slán go fóill

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