Enitra Jones, Class of 2005
My father, a devoted Christian and traditional Southern Baptist pastor, would awaken the family for our weekly missionary adventure. Each Saturday we would visit Charity Hospital, an inner city health facility in New Orleans, to witness and provide hope through prayer, fresh coffee, and hot doughnuts. It was then, while helplessly observing individuals struggle to obtain treatments for their varying ailments, I pledged to devote my life to studying the nature and origins of disease.
Now, a third year Microbial Pathogenesis, Immunology, and Inflammation graduate student, my passions for scientific inquiry and community outreach are as eminent as they were in my youth. Instead of “helplessly observing”, I am currently studying host-pathogen interactions as it relates to chlamydial sexually transmitted disease- a health problem that imperils the health of Memphians and diverse populations world-wide. With the development of the UTHSC Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL), I have a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain experience working under BSL-3 conditions; a skill set that undoubtedly sets me apart from other students pursuing terminal degrees in this field. In addition, I have benefited greatly from dialogues with UT faculty, many of which are world renowned experts in their respective fields. Their insight continues to prove invaluable as it pertains to my research experience and future endeavors.
UTHSC also has an unwavering commitment to improving the health of the community. I am elated to serve as President of the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA)-an organization that diligently strives to empower the community through disseminating information gained in the classroom and at the bench-top. This year we implemented a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Initiative which allows BGSA members to dialogue with populations greatest affected by sexually transmitted disease. During these conversations, UT students provide statistical information as it relates to the incidence and prevalence of STIs, research currently underway at UT aimed at addressing these issues, and ways to lower the probability of contracting and transmitting disease.
Langston Hughes, a literary revolutionary, once posed the question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” Fortunately, his inquiry shall remain unanswered. My UTHSC education embodies the “American Dream;” I am expanding my knowledge base, refining my technical skill-set, and providing meaningful contributions to the community-at-large.