1. What is something not too many people know about you?
One thing not too many people know about me is that I grew up living in multiple homeless shelters. I didn't have many toys as a child, so I would play with bugs outside, pretending to be an explorer collecting bugs from lands far away, which developed into a love for science.
2. What are your biggest passions?
My biggest passion in life is science. There is so much known yet so much still to be discovered.
3. What are your goals for the future?
One of my goals for the future is to go into research. One thing that interests me the most in the field of research is designing ways to create clean drinking water for areas that don't have access to it.
4. What is your definition of success?
Success to me means always being the best version of yourself. It is defying all hardships and moving forward.
5. Tell us something about the projects you're working on.
Currently, I am still a student studying medical laboratory science with Rutgers School of Health Professions. I am currently rotating through different areas of different labs around the state in order to gain experience. Following this, I am taking my ASCP board exam to be certified in Medical Laboratory Science in hopes of working for a hospital and going to graduate school.
Check out Karina's scholarship-winning essay on why she chose to pursue clinical laboratory science:
My love for science and the world around me stemmed from a very young age. I was brought up slightly different than my peers. For a large part of my childhood, I grew up in a homeless shelter for women. This however, sounds much worse than it actually was. Growing up without toys as a child, I spent a great deal of time creating my own. I would often sit outside collecting insects to observe, pretending to be a scientist discovering an unfamiliar species of ants from a land far away. Although I have since grown out of my bug collecting years, I have not grown out of my quest for knowledge or endless curiosity. I am drawn to Medical Laboratory Science because there are new advances in health and medicine each day, yet a vast majority is still unexplained. In this field, there will never be a shortage of questions to ask, ideas to express, or knowledge to seek. I chose to become a Medical Laboratory Scientist because at the core of my deep- seated love for science, there is a young explorer waiting to discover something unusual.
As an undergraduate, I was involved in a research project studying the occurrence of drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus among college students. Although the research has not been completed, it was an opportunity to discover what I am passionate about and the work that I want to do as a professional. Each day, there are millions of people getting sick, and not many people asking why. My role as a Medical Laboratory Scientist is to help others to the best of my ability, which is why I hope to have a career in disease research and prevention.
Following graduation, I would like to become involved in working alongside students and assisting in individual research. As an undergraduate who was involved in research, I recognize the importance in student led research and in gaining a professional skill set. Within five years, my goal is to continue my education for an advanced degree in Medical Laboratory Science, while working in a research laboratory to gain experience and knowledge. Although Medical Laboratory Science is changing, basic human needs are not. Within ten years, I hope to take the knowledge and experience I have obtained to work for a large public health organization conducting research on waterborne pathogens and in ensuring clean drinking water in areas of poverty.
Photographed by: Robbie Bulilian