Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ABRCMS: Then and Now

I've been to the Annual Biomedical Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) three times now, twice as an undergrad and once (so far) as a graduate student and I think this might be my last (maybe). 

The ABRCMS is a conference devoted to the leadership training of minority students. It is largely focused on encouraging higher learning, i.e. graduate school, medical school or something akin to those two. 
The first time I went to ABRCMS (2008, Florida), I had just started my Junior year in college, I was still undecided on graduate school or medical school, but I knew it would be one or the other. Also, I had just started independent study the summer before and gave a poster presentation of the lab's work. Again, being a junior, I found ABRCMS very appealing. It was in-fact the first large conference I had been to and seeing so many other students (that looked like me) interested in biology and research was amazing to me. ABRCMS promoted minority students involvement in research not just by talking about it, but most importantly, by providing the resources for it. ABRCMS held events such as exhibits, where representatives from several universities, companies and government agencies, came and talked to students about opportunities available to students in their respective organizations. These opportunities ranged from summer internships, graduate training, fellowships, scholarships and/or jobs.

I found out about the importance of summer internships through ABRCMS and went ahead and apply (in the following months) for internships for the summer of my Junior year. I ended up at Harvard for a summer as a result.

Cabot House

Inside Annenberg Hall

In the beginning of my Senior year, I found myself going to ABRCMS (2009, Arizona) again, this time also presenting, with more experience and a dire need to gather information on my graduate schools of interest. I ended up attending as much of the seminars and events I felt were applicable to me and attended as many exhibits as I wanted to and then some. I was interested in knowing the criteria for admission into many of the school on "my list", so I bombarded exhibitors with questions about their various programs and departments, numbers of rotations required, stipend amounts, GRE scores, letters of name it.

Is it just me or is that cactus really rude ;)

My focused was changed a-bit from the previous year but ABRCMS still met my needs and still applied to me very much.

In the beginning of my 3rd year as a graduate student, I got the opportunity to go to ABRCMS once more (this past November 2012, California). Again, I still presented my research, but this time many of the seminars and events weren't as applicable to me as in the past, nor was I interested in the exhibits as much. I was afraid this might happen, so I had volunteered to be a graduate student exhibitor for my program. Having passed through these stages before, I was able to tell the students about my experiences and tell how everything ended up. It was slightly weird being on the other side of the ring and talking to undergrads about my program and requirements needed to get in the program. Even more weird was the fact that most of these students were so much bigger and taller than I am that I bet they didn't think I was an exhibitor until I opened my mouth. 

Although, I thought ABRCMS is changed, it hasn't. I have definitely changed. I am sure that ABRCMS works for a Junior or Senior seeking that internship and wanting to go to graduate school or medical school as beautifully as it worked for me few years back. At first, I was a little piqued that ABRCMS did not "appeal" to me as it once did, but then I realized that ABRCMS mission and beliefs are what helped me get to where I am today and it works at the level where it is need the most. 

There are events, seminars, and exhibits that might appeal to someone like me (an inbetweener, a gradschooler) but they are outnumbered by the undergrad events. If I do go to ABRCMS again, (and I'm not completely adverse to it) I would definitely prefer to be a volunteer exhibitor (as I was this year) as opposed to just another graduate student who might find ABRCMS less appealing than it use to be. 

And that is ok.


  1. Your post makes me want to come that conference. Can I?

  2. Hi, Adeola. I just finished my first year as a biology major/student and I must say it was no easy ordeal but all in all I really know that this is something that I want to do. I am interested in this conference and I was wondering if you might give me more info on how to participate in it. I also have a passion for travelling even though I haven't an opportunity to do so very much. You can reply to me at Thank u.