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Student Spotlights

Mamadou: Public Health

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Mamadou Tounkara is a Public Health major with a minor in Global Health. He had the opportunity to get hands-on experience at the Huntsman Cancer Institute as a Research Assistant and Outreach Program Health Educator.


What did you do at your internship?

I got my internship opportunity when I was looking at the life science news website. The Huntsman Cancer Institute was looking for 2-3 interns for summer. I called the outreach manager and ask more information about the specific tasks intern will most likely be doing during their time at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Once I had that information, I asked about the requirements, which was three letter of recommendation, resume/cv, and personal statement. I started asking different professors within mu program to write a letter of recommendation. They did write me an amazing letter of recommendation.
After, 2 months or so, I received an email for interview. Then after the interview, I had no doubt that I would get the internship. It was a very meaningful experience talking with the people I met at the Huntsman Cancer Institute outreach program. I decided to get involved with Kirchhoff Research Group because I am interested in childhood cancer research survivorship. My mentor at the Huntsman Cancer Institute helped me to learn how to review IRB protocol for NIH grant.

I learned to review article and provide comments using tracked change, and I attended the annual HPV vaccine meeting with experts from the NCI. I have been involved with the outreach program and presented a presentation about cancer and skin cancer at different worksites to raise employees awareness about possible risks factors and exposures from work.

This internship opportunity was a really unique experience for me in the sense that I was able to get involve in two different departments at the Huntsman Cancer Institute: the Outreach Program and the Kirchhoff Research Group. I have been working with amazing and decent people who helped me to learn new sweet skills indispensable for a graduate student to be marketable in the industry. I am so grateful to have this opportunity where I can combine both theories and skills learn in class and be able to apply in the real work situation with great outcomes.

What was the most useful thing you learned from your internship?

The most useful thing I have learned from my internship is being able to analyze testicular cancer survivorship and air pollution data on one part. On the other part, I had a deep understand of providing the community with research-based information from well-known scientists on skin cancer in Utah.

How did your courses and your major prepare you for your internship?

I was well prepared to support and serve the people I was working with during my time at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Would you recommend this internship to other students? Why?

I highly recommend this internship even though it is very selective. Once you get in you will understand the "why". I know that ease is a greater treat to progress than hardship. It was not easy for me to get this internship, I went through a lot of processes such a background check, paper work, and a lot of meetings. As I thrive to accomplish these tasks with passion everything was easy after that heavy work. Never give up the thing you like to do. Keep working hard and keep God in your life everything will fall under their place at the right time.

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First day at the internship at UCAN conference in Salt Lake City. Pictured (left to right)(Left to right) Patricia Glenn, Guadalupe Tovar, Jane Ostler, Jennifer Morales, Nate Free, Mamadou Tounkara
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Mamadou Tounkara