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Peer Mentoring

The primary role of the Biochemistry Peer mentors is to engage our First Year students in our BCHM 1014: First Year Experience in Biochemistry course.  In this course Peer Mentors interact with first year and transfer students, and help to provide support, direction and guidance, as well as demonstrate maturity of judgment, objectivity, integrity, and academic honesty. Peer Mentors assist in the development of skills necessary for mentees to succeed in college, and motivate first year students to achieve academic excellence in one of the toughest majors at Virginia Tech.

The Peer Mentoring program was initiated in the Fall of 2012 by the then instructor of the first Year Experience course, Dr. Glenda Gillaspy. The first  Biochemistry undergraduate students to serve as Peer Mentors have graduated from Virginia Tech. Many have earned advanced degrees and are pursuing a variety of careers including: a PhD scientist working on the epigenome of plants, a PhD scientist working on metabolic engineering of microbes, a PharmD scientist working at Innova Health Systems, a Project Manager at Tecan Labwerx, a PhD scientist working on Protein Engineering at Cellibre, an MD pursuing a medical residency at Tufts, an MD pursuing a residency in Surgery at University of Maryland, and a DMD with a practice in Minneapolis.

Kaylee Canales

Kaylee Canales
kayleec7@vt.edu

My name is Kaylee Canales, and I am going into my Junior Year of school. My major is Biochemistry, and I am minoring in Leadership and Social Change, Mathematics, and Chemistry.  I just received the SMART scholarship. If you are unfamiliar, it is a program that pays for full tuition, plus extra living expenses if you agree to work for the Department of Defense after you graduate for a certain amount of time, and complete internships over the summers while still in school. So, over my summers, I work at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station for the Corrosion and Wear Branch. I was part of the Leadership and Social Change Residential College, for the past two years of college. 

Kevin Chen

Kevin Chen
ckevin99@vt.edu
Majors: Biochemistry and Biology
Minors: Medicine and Society and History
Undergrad research: Did research under Dr. Capelluto on protein signaling 

Future Plans: Hopefully Medical School with a focus on Radiology

Favorite Class: Definitely Analytical Chemistry with Dr. Geller

Advice: Take everything one step at a time and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. There are so many opportunities and possibilities so be proactive!!

Maegan Gabby

Maegan Gabby
maegang@vt.edu

Academic Year: Sophomore

Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Spanish, Chemistry

I am involved in undergraduate research at the Jutras Lab researching Lyme Disease. This past summer, I interned at the Federal Food and Drug Administration where I worked on a research project analyzing the evolution of late phase clinical trials for drugs indicated for the prevention and/or treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and postoperative nausea and vomiting that I am working to turn into a publication. Following graduation, I plan to attend medical school and complete and MD/PhD program to work in a clinical setting and utilize my PhD to conduct my own research regarding oncology drug development. I am a member of the Honors College and last year I was part of the CurVinci Living Learning Community (now called Orion). My favorite class so far at VT has been Chem 1035 with Dr. Amateis. My advice to this year’s freshmen is to balance your time and not do too much too fast. Please reach out to me if you have any questions!

Amanda Gunzel

Amanda Gunzel
gamanda9@vt.edu

I am a Junior studying Biochemistry.

The past two semesters I have been working in Dr. Biswarup's lab with a focus in microbiology. 

I have been involved in AED, a pre-health honor society, in preparation for a possible future in medicine.

I plan to apply for a master's program in Biochemistry and to continue to explore different careers in the field through internships and shadowing.

My favorite class at VT so far has been Microbiology Lab (has helped with research and very "hands-on").

Advice: Explore the many opportunities you have here and use your resources. Know your end goal but know the small steps to get there along the way and don't lose sight. The most important part is to make sure you are happy with the path you choose to take.

Brenna Hegedus

Brenna Hegedus
brenna2000@vt.edu

My name is Brenna Hegedus. I am a sophomore at Virginia Tech. Not only am I a Biochemistry major, but I am also pursuing a double minor in Chemistry and Philosophy. I am currently serving as a mentor in the Orion Science Living Learning Community. I advise that all first year students become friends with their academic advisors, because they care about your best interests and most of them are pretty cool. At least the ones in the Biochemistry department!

Ian Hicklin

Ian Hicklin
iankh@vt.edu

I am a sophomore, and I want to go into research in biochemistry. My favorite class so far though was RLCL 1014, The Medieval World, which was a super interesting discussions based class about the dark ages. I am a mentor in the Orion living learning community as well as a member of the Honors College. My biggest piece of advice for freshmen, although common, is to not be afraid to ask for help. All of the teachers, and many other students, would be super happy to assist you with whatever you need.

Taylan Tunckanat

Taylan Tunckanat
ttunckanat56@vt.edu

Academic Standing: Sophomore

Minor in Chemistry

Research Experience: Fralin SURF 2019 and Fralin 2019-2020 Fellowship, both conducted in Allen Lab
 

Future Plan: Interested in Graduate School

Favorite Class at VT: Phage Hunters BIOL-1135

Advice: It’s never too early to start research

Ryan Walters

Ryan Walters
rmw98@vt.edu

Major: Biochemistry 

Minors: Biology and Medicine & Society

Future Plans: Honestly, I don't know yet. I am considering PA or med school.

Advice: "One Step At A Time" by Jordin Sparks. College is huge and stressful all hitting you at once. It’s overwhelming but everyone is on the same journey. Be yourself and take one step at a time.

Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams
kevinw6@vt.edu

Year: Junior

Minor: Chemistry

Research: Currently part of the Slade Lab, used to work in the Wong lab, Fralin SURF

Future plans: Masters hopefully at Tech and then a PhD

Favorite class: Microbiology lecture

Advice: Don't be afraid to be yourself, and never be afraid to ask for help. Chances are everyone around you needs help just as much.

Honors College, participated in Summer Academy