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Picture of Jessica beside a microscope
Merck Canada has been instrumental in creating opportunities for Jessica by funding the Training Aboriginal Youth in Biomedical Labs program at the Department of Biology

Jessica Humchitt, a graduate of SFU Continuing Studies' Aboriginal Pre-Health Program, was recently awarded the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Award for her work.

These awards are meant to stimulate undergraduate students' interest in research in natural sciences and engineering. They are also meant to encourage students to pursue graduate studies and research careers.

"I'm beyond grateful to have been granted a recent NSERC award that will allow me to extend my invaluable lab experiences this summer through the Training of Aboriginal Youth in Biomedical Labs (TAYBL) program," Humchitt said.

"I have successfully tackled my second year as a health science undergraduate. It's been a good semester with lots of ups and downs and the usual struggle to balance all upon my path. This is my second summer conducting lab assistance in a research lab that focuses on florescent live-cell imaging. I'm very much looking forward to getting back into the lab and under the hood. I feel fortunate to have a supportive, encouraging, and incredibly knowledgeable group at the Rintoul Lab. The TAYBL program has been an essential part of my learning experience and is a wonderful component that builds upon the Aboriginal Pre-Health Program."

"A recent highlight of my TAYBL experience was the invitation to attend SFU's Outstanding Alumni Awards dinner, during which I was able to join the table of people who had nominated Nadine Caron, whose words during this memorable evening gave me much encouragement and appreciation. I was able to personally meet this truly inspiring role model, and I have an immeasurable amount of gratitude to Dr. Felix Breden for giving me such a motivating experience."

"Recently, I was able to witness the repatriation of my Heiltsuk ancestors. I still remember this as a true highlight during my path. Although it is not at all related to academics, it far outshines my happiness at that B+ in Biology last year! This says a lot, but doesn't come close to describing my joy at witnessing this historic event for Heiltsuk people and SFU. My children will remember this historic ceremonial event, and that, for me, is very special."

"Merck Canada has been instrumental in creating opportunities for Jessica by funding the Training Aboriginal Youth in Biomedical Labs program at the Department of Biology," said Dr. Felix Breden, the chair of SFU's Department of Biology. Breden oversees the TAYBL program."

"Merck Canada supported Jessica's mentorship in researcher Dr. Gordon Rintoul's lab in her first undergraduate year, and is committed to providing multiple-year funding that will support Jessica's success until graduation. Jessica's success is opening up more opportunities for Aboriginal students to follow in her footsteps in this program."

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