Former Werner H. Kirsten (WHK) intern Janine Bahsali, who will be attending Adler University this fall to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology, credits her internships at NCI at Frederick with starting her down the path toward a Ph.D.
Bahsali joined the WHK Student Intern Program during her senior year of high school, working in Occupational Health Services (OHS) with mentor Sarah Hooper. After her OHS internship concluded in mid-2014, she spent the summer with the NCI at Frederick Protein Expression Laboratory before leaving to attend Hood College in the fall. She later returned to OHS for two more seasonal internships.
Her favorite project during her first internship involved extensive research on smallpox, which included learning its mechanism of action and studying its viral classification. Her other work with OHS included learning how to suture by practicing on a pig’s foot, as well as helping to launch the first Take a Hike event, a recurring lunchtime exercise activity that has since become a tradition at NCI at Frederick.
Bahsali says her internships were valuable opportunities to learn from nearly everyone she met—scientists; other OHS staff; and fellow interns, especially Esther Shafer, one of Bahsali’s classmates at school.
“We really helped each other learn how to develop our strengths, but worked on our weaknesses together,” Bahsali said.
Her internships also helped in another way—that is, they helped her narrow down her possible career paths. Despite her enjoyment and her opinion that it made her a better student and researcher, she realized that it may not be the place for her.
“I think my time as an intern really helped me decide what I wanted to do,” she said. “I went into my internship thinking I was going to be a hardcore researcher, but I left … with doubts. I didn’t know if I wanted to research [for] the rest of my life.”
After leaving NCI at Frederick, Bahsali became a special volunteer in a nonhuman primate laboratory at the National Institutes of Health. More recently, she graduated from Hood with a degree in psychology, and she is currently a substance abuse counselor at Mountain Manor Treatment Centers, an addiction- and disorder-treatment center located in Frederick.
After completing her doctorate in clinical psychology, Bahsali hopes to join the Army as an officer before eventually opening her own practice and helping law enforcement groups with psychological assessments. Yet as she prepares for her next journey, she believes her internships helped her to take the first steps.
“We did so many exciting projects,” she said. “I’m proud of being one of the select few to say I’ve been an intern, and it has opened so many doors for me.”