I was so grateful to be able to do research as an undergrad. This experience allowed me to truly value medical research, and to develop a scientific mind.
Ximena Solis-Wever, now studying medicine at TTUHSC, made a strong impression as a microbiology student in the College of Arts and Sciences. Not only committed to her coursework, Solis-Wever was also involved in undergraduate research since her freshman year. She worked in Professor Dimitri Pappas' lab and later wrote an honors senior thesis regarding oxygen deprivation of heart tissue cells for use in modeling heart attacks. Some of Solis-Wever's other work in Pappas' lab has been published in Analytical Chemistry, Lab on a Chip, and The Analyst. Giving back to her community, Solis-Wever has volunteered at the Lubbock Heart Hospital, South Plains Food Bank, and Christ the King Catholic Church, as well as tutored high school students. Also, Solis-Wever has volunteered with her father, a cardiologist, in providing medical attention to people in Guatemala.
Learn more about Student of Integrated Scholarship Ximena Solis-Wever in this question-and-answer session.
What got you interested in your major?
In undergrad I completed my BS in microbiology with a minor in chemistry. My interest began after attending summer science camps at TTUHSC while I was in junior high and after taking biology courses in high school. I am currently in my first year of medical school at TTUHSC. My father, a cardiologist, is a TTUHSC alumnus, and I have always wanted to follow in his footsteps since I was 8 years old. My undergraduate career solidified the idea that I wanted to pursue a medical career.
What courses are you taking this semester?
This semester I am taking Major Organ Systems, and Host Defense and Medical Microbiology. We are also enrolled in Early Clinical Experience, in which we learn basic patient exam skills while completing a service project and an honors research project.
What is the most challenging course you've taken? How has it affected you?
The most challenging course I have taken has to be Clinically Oriented Anatomy (in medical school). This class taught me to approach a situation from every possible angle, and how all our internal structures are interconnected. I believe that this class pushed me to work and study my hardest.
Have you participated in undergraduate research?
I worked for Dr. Dimitri Pappas, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, for 3.5 years in undergrad. I was able to participate in the Honors College Undergraduate Research Fellow program and to write an honors senior thesis while working in the lab. Our research primarily focused on cell analysis. My first projects were on cellular chromatography of white blood cells using affinity columns. My senior thesis was on microfluidic-based investigations of cardiomyocyte hypoxia using a polymer device to create a "heart attack" on a microscope slide to develop a new method to help understand the process of programmed cell death in heart cells and possibly aid in the development of new treatments for patients. I was able to serve as co-author on papers that were published in Analytical Chemistry, Lab on a Chip, and The Analyst.
What service projects (volunteering, community service, etc.) have you been involved in?
In undergrad I volunteered at the Lubbock Heart Hospital, the Food Bank, and Christ the King Catholic Church; tutored for high school student; and did some medical volunteering in my birthplace, Guatemala.
What advice would you give to other students who would like to be a Student of Integrated Scholarship? Students of Integrated Scholarship balance academics with additional activities, such as research, internships, service learning, and study abroad.
It can be done! At times it did seem like there were not enough hours in a day, but if something is important to you, it will get done. I recommend that students develop excellent study habits early on in their careers to allow them to participate in the activities they want. Early exposure to research also allows you to be well trained in your lab, to be able to get more complex research and publications in your junior and senior years.
What are your plans after graduation?
After medical school, I plan to complete a residency and specialization to become a cardiothoracic surgeon or a cardiologist. I hope to also be able to continue research in some capacity in the future.
What experiences do you value most as a student at Texas Tech?
I was so grateful to be able to do research in undergrad. Dr. Pappas was a wonderful mentor, and I received invaluable training and experience that will help me in my future endeavors. This experience allowed me to truly value medical research and to develop a scientific mind.