Androniqi’s College Essay


Androniqi Danga, Contributor

When I was in fifth grade, my grandmother was diagnosed with early-stage Dementia and mild cognitive decline. Even before her diagnosis, my family and I had noticed symptoms. She was beginning to forget questions that she had asked us earlier in the day and where she had placed certain items. I began researching Dementia and eventually Alzheimer’s Disease as soon as I noticed these early symptoms. Little did I know that what I thought was a temporary interest would turn into one of my passions and an area I would want to pursue in my future. 

As I started researching, I found myself captivated by everything I was learning about Alzheimer’s, and soon, this interest evolved into research about nearly anything I came across in the medical field, such as DNA, cell function, and what causes different cancers to develop. By the time I was in eighth grade, I found that I had generated a long list of topics that I wanted to learn more about. As my research continued, I became extremely captivated by biology and advances in medicine and technology that were being used for Alzheimer’s treatment. It was at this time that I knew I wanted to at least study biology and possibly follow a pre-med track in college.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to participate in a cancer research internship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I had the opportunity to work with current Ph.D. students who were researching breast and ovarian cancer. This internship gave me hands-on experience in the research aspect of the medical field. When I originally applied for this internship, I thought it would simply help me determine whether or not I would actually want to go into the medical field. By the end of it, I learned just how much I love medical research and how I could truly see myself working in a lab later in life. As each day passed and I was able to work more and more independently, I realized how interesting all the research and the work I was doing was, and how important it was to me.

The first few days of my internship were spent learning the techniques which would be used when working independently on experiments that Dr. Sharon Cantor, whose lab I was in, wanted me to complete. I ended up doing various ssDNA/Edu Assays, which would show which cells were replicating and which cells had single-stranded DNA. As I slowly perfected my technique, I started treating cells to see how their replication was affected by different drugs. With the help of Silvia Lee, the Ph.D. student I was paired with throughout my internship, I added MMC (mitomycin C) and PARPi (PARP enzyme inhibitors) to the FA-A Vector and FA-A +A cells at different levels. Every day I spent in the lab, I got more and more excited about the possibility of becoming a scientist in the future. 

Now looking back, I realize that what started as simple research to help my grandmother blossomed into a passion for medicine and biology that continues to this day. My love for my grandmother encouraged me to research Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and any other topic I came across. Every time I find myself working on experiments in science, I remember my grandmother and how my love for her led me to where I am today. I know that in the future I will look back and carry my grandmother with me, forever and always.

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