Twenty-one year-old aspiring Neurovirologist, Rukia Henry of Linden has secured an Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2017 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) held in conference in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this month.
The Howard University Honour Student who hails from Retrieve, Linden, said that her achievement is a testament that Guyanese are capable of excelling if they are given the opportunity to showcase their skills.
During the conference, hundreds of abstracts were submitted in different categories ranging from chemistry to cancer biology to neuroscience. Henry’s presentation was based on her research in establishing a model to study the herpes virus infection in the brain.
Based on her presentation, Henry impressed the judges and was awarded a winner in the Neuroscience category.
She knows all too well that sometimes being a non-American citizen often means limits, such as applying to certain programmes or receiving funding opportunities to do research.
“There are many opportunities that are available and it just takes hard work and dedication to look for them. You have to be true to yourself and show your amazingly good work ethic that people you wouldn’t even think about notice you and offer you opportunities to continue your work,” Henry stated.
During her sophomore year, Henry wanted to pursue research, but the opportunities were mostly made available to American citizens. She dug deep and took it upon herself to be proactive. She visited the dean of her college and a few weeks later, she landed a job at the HIV Research Lab in the Howard University Medical School where she has been serving for almost three years now.
She was earning and was later accepted for summer opportunities to shadow doctors in Spain. The following summer she was accepted to Princeton. This suited her plans as many of the research conferences that she attended were paid for by Princeton, which is also funding her while she completed her final year at Howard University.
She credits her strength to growing up in Linden and the foundation provided by Emmanuel Seventh Day Adventist church. Her parents, Mark and Nadine Henry are her inspiration.
To her credit, she has founded the Community Health Access Missionary Programme which organised a medical outreach on January 2016 when she serviced the residents of Kairuni in Linden and they received free medical care and medication.
She plans to register the organisation as a 501 (c) non-profit organisation and hopes that she will be able to expand to other communities across Guyana where there is no immediate access to health care.
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