Student Success

Current Students in the Spotlight


Marina's Story


Marina is a current SWC Biotech student


How did the SWC Biotechnology Program help you?

The program helped me to see that there are other options than just studying regular Biology as I had been planning on doing. With the help of Dr. Atwater and Dr. Nouna, I was introduced to a new field that I found incredibly interesting and fun. The fact that the program is so hands on was great because rather than just reading about something like splicing a glowing gene into cells from other organisms, we actually got to DO it.


SWC Biotechnology highlight?

Definitely the many different experiments we did every day. Instead of just sitting in front of a whiteboard bored out of our minds as an instructor droned on and on, BETSI allowed the students to do an experiment while learning about it. With a mini lecture before the lab and nonstop help during the lab itself, any confusion was quickly dispelled and help was always offered by Dr. Atwater, Dr. Nouna, or a TA.


Most memorable SWC Biotechnology moment?

We took samples of our DNA by rubbing toothpicks on the inside of our mouth so that we could take a look at our genes, only to have absolutely nothing showed up in the results! Apparently the chemicals that had been used to treat the DNA didn't work or something of the sort, so nothing happened at all. However, we conveniently ignored this fact and joked that we simply did not have DNA. We were a new form of human organism!


Jessica's Story


Jessica is a current SWC Biotech student


How did the SWC Biotechnology Program help you?

The program has helped me to feel confident in working in a lab and has given me the opportunity to receive experiences that even my friends at other colleges have not been offered. The SWC Biotechnology Program and BETSI Project has also helped me to open my eyes. I was ready to transfer to a four year school in San Diego, but I was planning to go there because I didn't really know where else to go. I stayed a year longer just to be in the SWC Biotechnology program. After completing the program and doing my internship at CSUSM, I have decided to transfer there instead. I fell in love with the university. I was even offered a job to work in their lab if I transferred there.


SWC Biotechnology highlight?

My mentors Dr. Atwater and Dr. Bakhiet, the students and their hunger to learn, and being a teacher assistant and encouraging young high school students about the possibilities and opportunities of being involved in a science career.


Most memorable SWC Biotechnology moment?

Making a necklace. Within the glass vile contained my DNA. It was a one of a kind necklace and an exciting lab. Being offered an internship, and preparing to go to Washington D.C. to present at a National Science Foundation conference.


Matt's Story


Matt is a current SWC Biotech student


How did the SWC Biotechnology Program help you?

I learned about the program while I was a sophomore at Eastlake High School. Dr. Atwater came to my biology class to let us use SWC's equipment for a lab. He mentioned the program and I told my teacher, Mrs. Merzbacher, that I was interested in the program and she referred me as well as a fellow student to Dr. Atwater. To be honest in my education I had never really applied myself and I had no direction in regards to possible career choices. I had no interest in my subjects, until I took my Biology class sophomore year and did the BETSI project.


As a student dealing with ADHD my science courses were the only courses that I could feel . . . smart in. So I guess you could say the BETSI program really did change my life. It helped me realize that I love and can actually focus on and comprehend scientific material really well.


SWC Biotechnology highlight?

I would say that the thing I liked most was just learning really interesting information. As well as doing the hands on labs. It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity.


Most memorable SWC Biotechnology moment?

I would have to say making GFP. As well as small things like what a plasmid is and that DNA replication occurs form the 5 to 3 prime direction. These hands on experiences help these ideas to stick into your head and it becomes a way of thinking instead of just remembering facts to pass a test.