Where Are They Now: Emily Burnett Aims Even Higher Thanks to Internship Experience

By Samuel Lopez, staff writer; main photo contributed by Emily Burnett; ceremony photo by Richard Frederickson, staff photographer
Image of former intern Emily Burnett

Former intern Emily Burnett.

Emily Burnett, a five-time intern with NCI at Frederick’s Occupational Health Services (OHS), says the Werner H. Kirsten Student Intern Program program helped shape her current career trajectory.

When she began her first OHS internship in 2015, her heart was set on becoming a nurse. However, after working with mentor Sarah Hooper and secondary mentor Patricia Claude, she decided to pursue a “higher level of medicine”—physician’s assistant.

“[Trish] is the one who has pushed me to pursue becoming a physician’s assistant,” Burnett said. “Currently, I do not know the exact specialty I want to go into, but a dream of mine has always been to work in the neonatal intensive care unit.”

Burnett is currently in her second year of undergraduate work in interdisciplinary studies—natural science and physical science—at Liberty University, which she is supplementing with a minor in psychology. She hopes to begin her medical studies soon after she graduates.

Her love for medicine stems from her love for helping others. Outside of her internships, she has traveled on several mission trips with her church, and she plans to join another to Greece this summer. She also serves as the student manager of Liberty’s division-one women’s volleyball team, which can involve anything from helping during practices to simply offering positive encouragement. It is an “opportunity to serve others” that she deeply enjoys.

Burnett valued similar opportunities during her internships at NCI at Frederick. Her favorite project was facilitating the Research Donor Program, an OHS-managed initiative that enables employees to provide blood, saliva, and other samples for scientific studies.

“I loved working on it and knowing that the small things I would do were helping our scientists conduct their research,” she said.

She also helped in the OHS clinic, planned several of the popular Take a Hike events, collaborated on employee health programs, and contributed to Poster. At the 2016 Spring Research Festival, Burnett won the Outstanding Poster Award in the “Other” category for her presentation on her work with school peers to create a 3D-printed cast made of polycarbonate, a durable material used in everything from LifeProof phone cases to the cockpit canopy of Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor jet.

Burnett greatly enjoyed her internships, and though she is still years away from becoming a physician’s assistant, she feels confident in her decision.

“I am so thankful for Trish and Sarah for all of the things they have helped me to learn about nursing and myself,” she said.

Burnett receiving her Outstanding Poster award in 2016 from Craig Reynolds, Ph.D., who was NCI associate director at the time.