Leiana-Lavette Woodard - Profile
I participated in the Fisk-UIUC Undergraduate Summer Research Scholar Program in 2020 and 2021. I began talking then with faculty in the program about my career goals, and they explained how the 4+1 master's bridge program would help me to realize my chosen career path.
This program is great for students who would like to enter PhD research careers in STEM. There are many options and it is not isolated to just biology—the participating graduate programs include physics, chemistry, and engineering, for example. For me, since I want to do MD-PhD, I can further my education and research skills as I prepare to apply for MD-PhD programs. I am glad that I will have extra time and extra training to make me more competitive once I am ready to apply.
Fisk is an ideal place to complete this 4+1 undergraduate and master's coursework, because the school is small, and you have the ability to work very closely with professors. If you need extra help, you will definitely get it here, but at the same time, if you are more independent, they will also allow you that freedom, too. Fisk is an excellent place to start your research career, because they are really good at teaching problem-solving skills. This comes from the fact that we have not always had all the resources of larger and wealthier schools, but we always find a way to get the results we need.
For Fisk students, this program is a great way to build networking skills. Fisk is so small that we don’t have to go out of our way to get in contact with professors. I can normally just walk into their offices. But in this bridge program, I have to learn how to reach out to faculty members at UIUC. Because we are not close by, I have to email faculty members I don’t know to request meetings, or reach out to faculty members who do already know me to request that they introduce me. These are really valuable communication and networking skills to have for a career in STEM research.