Posted May 2009
Senior Nicole Titus (Forensic Sciences) recently won a new honors award at Chaminade.
Chaminade President Bernard Ploeger commented at the award ceremony, “As the first recipient of the President Sue Wesselkamper Prize, Nicole Titus is setting the bar very high.”
Nicole is certainly outstanding. With a cumulative GPA of 3.99, Nicole belongs to 5 honor societies including Career Services, English, Criminal Justice, and the National Catholic Honor Society and is the current chapter president of Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Society.
Each year during the last three years at Chaminade, Nicole has been recognized as an Outstanding Student of the Year in chemistry: first in General Chemistry, then Organic Chemistry, and this year Biochemistry. Chaminade Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Helen Turner comments, “This is something like the winning the chemistry trifecta of Chaminade.”
Dean Turner also recognizes, “Nicole has a level of scientific maturity that you rarely see in one so young.” Of Native American descent, Nicole has attended two national conferences: SACNAS, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. At the latter she presented the research she conducted in the summer of 2008. She was one of 33 undergraduates selected nationally for summer research at Stanford University last year.
At Stanford, Nicole worked in Dr. Miriam Goodman’s lab, and also with mentor Dr. Juan Cueva. Her project involved testing nerve responses with certain genes suppressed in a small worm called C. elegans. Out of a list of candidate genes, her mentors expected her to test only about 12 during her stay. She didn’t know that, however, and she and her lab partners went on to test 27 genes and then began testing combinations of genes that exhibited similar behaviors. Their findings turned up some interesting new leads with the combination gene tests, intriguing her mentors, which may point to new tests and research.
In the area of service, Nicole has also distinguished herself. Service experiences have included student orientation leader, academic tutor (the go-to person for organic chemistry), Awakening Retreat participant and organizer, and IREC, inclusive recreation participant.
The two non-academic activities that Nicole has spent the most time with lately are the Awakening retreat, sponsored by campus ministry, and IREC, an inclusive recreation program created by Barbara Poole-Street, Ph.D., that allows young people with developmental disabilities and college students to meet and enjoy activities.
Nicole says, “I attended the Awakening Retreat my sophomore year, and I have continued to be a part of the Awakening ohana for 5 semesters. The retreat is an amazing experience, and I am glad to help make it memorable for those who attend. I think the best thing about the retreat is the strengthened sense of community that arises from the weekend away. The Monday after retreat is always filled with smiles, hugs, and conversations between people that had never met before the weekend.”
Of IREC, Nicole says, “The Friday afternoon IREC meeting is something I look forward to all week. I have found a group of people who truly inspire me... you are surrounded by a lovely group of people. They have taught me to be appreciative of what I have, and to turn every experience into an enjoyable one. They have strengthened my desire to help people in any way that I can.”
A forensic sciences major, Nicole’s experience helping others has begun to influence her career direction, and she now intends to become a physician. Nicole says, “Forensic science may have been what led me to Chaminade University but I believe that it is the true sense of community that has kept me here.”
Nicole intends to apply to medical schools this fall. However Nicole says she also intends “to apply to a unique program called Teach for America, in order to spend two years teaching science at the middle school or high school level to a group of students who have not been lucky enough to live in areas where the educational system is at its best.”
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