My name is Hima and I am a junior majoring in Biomedical Engineering. I would like to share with you all the amazing story of how I ended up spending an entire summer in China, without spending any money from my own pocket. Let me start from the beginning. When I came to Rutgers as a freshman, I decided to have a random roommate and I was paired with an international student from China. Little did I know at the time that we would grow to become best friends. When it came time to decide how we would spend our summers, we both decided to apply to the Douglas STEM summer stipend program, which would allow us to use the money to do research on any project we chose. We had this whimsical idea that if we both got the stipend I would go to China with her for the summer to do a Research Internship at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Miraculously, we were both awarded the Douglas STEM summer stipend and were both accepted into the International Research Internship program at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
I ended up going to Shanghai and staying with my best friend and her family during the duration of my internship. Fortunately for us, the university we were working in was a walkable distance from her house. The project that I chose to work on was something I was deeply invested in. It was the metabolic regulation and genetic engineering of medicinal plants under Professor Kexuan Tang and Dr. Qifang Pan. We mainly worked with Artemisia annua, a plant native to China which has received attention due to its antimalarial properties. I am a big advocate of herbal medicine and to be given an opportunity to be a part in this kind of research development was absolutely life changing. On the weekdays, I would work on my project and on the weekends I would travel to different places within China. I learned so much about the culture, the food, and even picked up some Mandarin while I was there. All in all, I couldn’t say that I would have been able to have an experience like this if it weren’t for Rutgers. Our plan seemed crazy to us at first, but somehow all the pieces came together. My advice to you is if you have a seemingly far fetched idea of something you want to do, you can make it happen. Don’t discredit your ideas so quickly and the pieces will come together like it did for me at Rutgers.