Senior Earns Praise for Research at AACR Meeting, to Join Jesuit Volunteer Corps

APRIL 25, 2016 – Last week, human science senior Rachel Acree (NHS’16) presented her honors thesis research at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in New Orleans.

Her poster, showcased during an undergraduate poster competition, earned a “meritorious honor” as one of the top 10 posters.

With graduation in sight, Acree is looking ahead to her next adventure, including medical school and service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Before walking across the stage in May, she took some time to reflect on her time at Georgetown and future plans.

NHS: How have you enjoyed Georgetown?

RA: I’m a senior about to graduate, so I’ve definitely spent some time lately looking back at my time at Georgetown. I’ve loved every minute. Georgetown’s Jesuit identity means a lot to me as I’m passionate about social justice. The NHS in particular has been outstanding due to its small class sizes, dedicated faculty, and tight-knit community. Georgetown has been my home for the past four years. I’ve formed incredible relationships, gotten to know the city of D.C., and come to love everything about life on the Hilltop.

NHS: What stands out about the human science major?

RA: As a human science major, I’ve really enjoyed our basic science curriculum since it’s presented in the context of human health. I’ve taken some fantastic upper level courses – such as “Cell Biology of Cancer” with Alex Theos, PhD, and “Genome Instability and Human Disease” with Ronit Yarden, PhD, and Jan LaRocque, PhD – that have advanced my understanding of complex human diseases.

This coursework has complemented my work in the research lab of Joanna Kitlinska, PhD. Our lab studies pediatric tumors, and my role specifically has been to investigate factors affecting the metastasis of Ewing sarcoma. As a human science major, it’s really easy to get involved in research. All I needed to do was ask!

I’ve loved my time in the lab as it’s given me real-world experience working on basic science problems that directly affect people's health. For me, working in Professor Kitlinska’s lab alongside my research mentor Jason Tilan, PhD, has solidified my passion for science and biology.

NHS: Tell us a little bit more about your other activities.

RA: I’m also involved in a STEM tutoring program for second graders in the D.C. area that I helped co-found. I’m very passionate about early STEM education, particularly among girls, and there is a definite need for excellent early STEM education around D.C. Our program is focused on engineering, so we do very hands-on work.

I’m also a member of the Georgetown Scholarship Program, a program dedicated to helping first generation college students succeed at Georgetown. GSP has been an incredible source of support for me, and I can honestly say I would not be here without the incredible GSP staff, donors, and mentors.

NHS: What are your plans after Georgetown?

RA: I am currently applying to medical school and will be working with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for my gap year. I’ll be in Philadelphia for the next year working with victims of domestic violence at a women’s shelter. I’m very passionate about this work, and I’m looking forward to the challenging, yet rewarding year ahead. 

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