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  After five years working as a professional hairstylist, Renee Woods came to the conclusion that she liked her job, but didn’t love it. She had always enjoyed science growing up and decided to hang up her shears to enroll as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado Denver. As a CU student, Renee found that “little things kept pushing me towards medicine.” In particular, a vacation encounter in Mexico with a poor man. He was “shoeless and begging for money to pay for surgery” on his necrotic foot, resulting from diabetes. This experience had a profound effect on her. “I think about him a lot,” and how he wasn’t able to get help because he couldn’t afford it. Renee realized that she wanted “to work in areas that need healthcare.”
Renee’s pre-med advisor at CU passed along a GSIP brochure to her, and she saw the value of the opportunity. Working as an intern in Michael Verneris, M.D.’s laboratory, Renee was immediately impressed by the thoughtfulness and organization of the program. Laboratory experience for an undergraduate can be hard to secure, and she was surprised by the scope of the research projects and the amount of responsibility given to the interns. It is “hard work being in
a lab,” there is a “period of learning, requiring lots of hours,” and it is all packed into a summer program. In addition to her research experience, Renee really enjoyed the chance to get to know her fellow interns, attend seminars, and meet other scientists and physicians. GSIP gave Renee “a clearer picture of my path.” Upon graduation, Renee returned to work in the Verneris lab and maintains that it definitely guided her to pursue further education.
Renee is now a first-year medical student at St. Georges University in Grenada. She feels that her time as a GSIP Intern has helped her in countless ways. From her research experience in the Verneris laboratory and the introduction to many different scientific concepts, to the friendships she made along the way, GSIP was “hard work, but worth it.” Renee described a group whitewater rafting trip she took that summer as an intern as exemplifying her GSIP experience. It was “a great day, perfect,” and “they were all joking about falling in” to the water. As it turned out, Renee did fall in. It was “only knee-deep, but it was very cold.” Renee immersed herself in the whole experience: she was soaked, but full of excitement and hope for her future.
   Former GSIP intern Renee Woods at her last day party given by former mentor Mike Verneris, M.D.
Mike Verneris, M.D. instructs former GSIP intern Renee Woods in the use of her last-day gift of a stethoscope.
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