Student optimizes academic experience with internship at Mayo Clinic

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Selecting 100 out of 1,100 students for their student research fellowship program from top schools around the country, the Mayo Clinic became the source of real-life moments that will forever change the perceptions of one Waynesburg University student.

After hearing about his classmates' experiences in their internships the previous summer, Corey Rearick, a senior biology pre-med major from New Castle, Pa., decided it was time to experience his studies hands-on. Hoping for the best, he applied to 20 different internships, including the Mayo Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic, a community consisting of several hospitals, clinics, research facilities and medical schools, houses several of the world's best surgeons and specialists and was voted the third best hospital in the United States.

“I applied to the Mayo Clinic thinking it would be way too prestigious for me,” said Rearick. “However, they got back to me in the first week of February. I immediately accepted.”

Though he represented one of the smaller schools at his internship, Rearick never felt at a disadvantage, claiming the only difference between his experience and those from Ivy League schools was his need to explain where Waynesburg was located to everyone he met.

“My Waynesburg education stacked up pound for pound with that of my colleagues from Berkley and Yale,” said Rearick, jokingly adding, “Thankfully the kidney functions the same at Yale and Duke as it does at Waynesburg.”

During his time at the Mayo Clinic, Rearick focused on the Nephrology and Hypertension Division, which was rated number one in nephrology in the United States. During his research, Rearick characterized and quantified an anatomical aspect of the kidney.

“I counted tubules then used statistics to relate the number of tubules to kidney diseases,” said Rearick.

For the core of his research, he counted 1,200 kidney biopsies. His mentor, one of the nation's top nephrologists, did not expect the biopsies to be completed before the end of the summer, but Rearick refused to settle with “incomplete.” With the true determination of a Waynesburg student, he concluded the biopsies two weeks before his departure.

Rearick believes the knowledge he gained through his research with the American Chemical Society (ACS) at the ACS 2012 convention in San Diego, Calif., helped prepare him for his internship. With the guidance of professors like Dr. Heidi Fletcher, assistant professor of chemistry at Waynesburg University, he was easily able to apply his studies at Waynesburg to actual research.

“Corey is a very competent student that not only remembers the material from his previous courses but can apply that knowledge in a laboratory setting,” said Fletcher. “As his research advisor, I have seen many examples of his talents, and have been impressed by his work ethic and his ability to learn new concepts.”

Through the course of his internship, Rearick not only learned a lot academically, but he also learned more about the medical field and his personal aspirations. After shadowing a few doctors and getting a glimpse of his future, he began to see the beauty in the intimate moments between patient and doctor, and patient and family—the moments where hope, trust and prayer become the strongest entities available.

“I walked away from those moments knowing that I wanted to spend the rest of my life in them,” said Rearick. “I know now that I want to be the ‘great hands' that people fall into when their situation is helpless.”