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Biotechnology student Sarina Barnes travels to Vancouver for program internship


sarina-barnesSarina Barnes decided to leave the comfort of her friends, family and Fleming College community to integrate theory and practice in a Biotechnology internship. Sarina was selected to complete her program internship at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Biotechnology – Advanced program internship in Semester 5 is designed to immerse students in the operations, processes and protocols of a DNA lab. During Sarina’s internship, she was responsible for planning and optimizing an assay that was being developed to streamline a few of the tests done by the Centre’s clinical team.

“Our BTF faculty encouraged me to pursue what I was interested in and gave me the support that I needed to pursue an internship out of province,” said Sarina of the 15 week, full-time (600 hour) placement. Fleming’s Biotechnology program internship may be implemented at approved private or public sites located locally, regionally, out-of-province or international locations.

“Living in Vancouver was a big change, but a welcomed one. I knew that I wanted to explore what the West Coast had to offer and was willing to work hard to get there,” said Sarina. “Moving away from family and friends to seek out a goal was really hard to do; it was through receiving their love and support that encouraged me as I transitioned to a new city and environment. These past four months on placement have allowed me to grow my skills exponentially and helped to define my interests. If I had to, I would do it all over again.”

Sarina, who chose to study at Fleming College because it offers automation in the Biotechnology curriculum, said her most memorable internship experience was when faculty member Lea Roque – who teaches automation – came for a site visit. “She had a one-on-one with my lab’s director, and I got to show her around the lab and talk about what I do,” said Sarina. “It was a different experience explaining what I was involved in, and really gave me a chance to demonstrate what I’ve learned and apply it back to my education.”

Sarina said she would happily recommend Fleming’s Biotechnology program to others. “It was a wonderful opportunity to gain knowledge on current topics in the field, while having lab experience to reinforce it. I cannot say enough how supportive the faculty is, inside and out of the classroom,” she said.

“The teaching style was very different from what I received at university. Things are much more hands-on, [move] more quickly, it really emphasized engagement with the material,” said Sarina on her Fleming education. “I felt that I was presented with workable knowledge to apply to the real world, which is ultimately what the industry is looking for.”

Now that her internship is complete, Sarina continues to apply her knowledge and skills at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. Sarina has been hired as a Research Assistant on a one year, full-time contract at the Centre.