Posted May 2009
Jenise Takai (Junior, Biology) has distinguished herself at Chaminade as an outstanding biology student (pre-med track. ) She is a Pacific Islander, a native of Saipan with a mix of Filipino, Japanese, and Chamorro ancestry. She is the oldest of five siblings, the first generation of her family to go to college. Chaminade has already had a big influence on her family: her two younger sisters and her mother have followed her to Honolulu. One sister is now at Chaminade, and the other attends KCC.
Jenise participated in the GEMS (Graduate Experience for Multi-Cultural Students) program last summer at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, a paid internship funded by the Minority Access Program of the Endocrine Society. She did breast cancer research under the direction of Dr. Steve Anderson, principle investigator, with Christian Young as her graduate mentor. While there she also attended the Endo ’08 Conference. Her poster presentation of her research won an award last semester at the ABRCMS conference (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.) Jenise will participate in a research internship again this summer at University of California San Diego (through the Minority Access Program as well.)
Jenise originally chose Chaminade because although far from Saipan, it was still a warm climate and she hoped that it would resemble home. She was homesick however in her first weeks at college and felt sad and lonely when she attended her first Awakening Retreat (organized by campus ministry.) Jenise says, “The retreat experience gave me a sense of community and family away from home. And when you are far away from home, it’s good to have that wholesome feeling , to be with strangers who really make a difference in your life. Now I like to be a part of that!” And to that end, Jenise continues on as a retreat staffer, hoping to make a difference in the lives of students as they embark on their collegiate journey.
During spring break she helped out as a college mentor to high school students participating in the Navy’s S2M2 program for minority students interested in medical careers. (Some of the sessions were held at Chaminade.)
Jenise is busy most days with her studies, and also works as a cashier at a local supermarket. She is a student worker as well, with a job title she describes as “the Assistant to the Assistant to the Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.”
Enthusiastic about her studies, when asked what advice she would give to other students, she said, “Definitely do research in the summer. It is definitely an eye-opener to other opportunities within the field of biomedical sciences, very good to do.” Jenise also considers microbiology with Dr. Domen a must-do. “Even if it is an evening class, it’s great, students would really love it.”