Kendra Porath ('19)

From the Diamond to Disease Research

Many Bethany Lutheran College students spend their summer months participating in internships. Internships are a great way for a student to either bolster their resume with experience pertinent to their career choice, or an internship can help a student to decide whether a particular career path is right for them. 

Kendra Porath is a senior at Bethany from Stacy, Minnesota. She is in the midst of an exciting internship experience. 

Porath explained about how she decided to enroll at Bethany, “I found out about Bethany when I was recruited to play softball here. When I came to visit, I loved the small community and the opportunity to strengthen my faith.”

Not only has Porath been involved with the softball program serving as team captain, she’s also taken on leadership roles on campus. She’s been the vice president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a member of the Scholastic Leadership Society, and attends Psychology Club meetings. 

Porath is a double major in biology and psychology. One of her professors in the psychology program, Dr. Jennifer Wosmek, helped Porath through a rigorous internship application process for Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. 

Porath noted, “Dr. Wosmek helped a ton with the application process. I can’t even count how many times she proofread everything, from my curriculum vitae and resume, to even the emails I sent.”

With Porath’s stellar credentials, and the guidance from Dr. Wosmek, she secured the internship at Mayo. Her work is in a cancer research lab on the Mayo campus. 

“My work is in the area of translational neuro-oncology, which focuses on developing new therapeutic strategies for glioblastoma multiforme and other brain metastases. We focus on understanding the basis of chemo and radiation therapy resistance that occurs often in these forms of cancer and how we can overcome those resistances.

“Our lab has two main ways of conducting research: in vitro and in vivo. I am mainly focusing on the in vitro portion of research for now. In vitro involves working with cells that were taken from a living organism and are in flasks and other culture disks. Once we have shown that certain therapies work in vitro, we move to in vivo research. We would then inject the cancer cells into the flank or brain of a mouse and test the efficacy of the therapies when they are in a living organism.”

The training at a research facility like Mayo gives Porath valuable experience going forward. She hopes to attend medical school with the goal of becoming a pediatric neurologist. 

Porath will be at Mayo throughout the summer break, and will return to campus just days after finishing her internship. It’s been a venture she’d recommend wholeheartedly. 

“This internship has given me valuable lab experience. I have learned the detail, precision, and passion that are necessary when you are conducting research at a world-known facility. The Mayo internship has also given me the opportunity to learn outside the lab. I’ve been able to shadow doctors and surgeons in the clinical setting. 

“I’d highly recommend that any student pursuing a career within the sciences participate in a research internship. Even if you never plan to conduct research in your future career, experiencing the workings of a lab will make you appreciate all the effort and time that goes into every aspect of your work.”