Estefania Castro-Vazquez spent the summer of 2016 investigating how to build a better blueberry.
In her internship at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, she worked with blueberry genomics and antioxidant capacity to amass new knowledge for plant breeders.
A Thomas Jefferson Scholar and recipient of the Edward W. Glazener Merit Scholarship, Castro-Vazquez is double-majoring in plant biology and communications. She says she’s still exploring career options, but her work at CALS is already in line with her mission: using science for good.
Why did you choose CALS?
I knew I wanted to work in a field that focused on producing knowledge that would be useful to the everyday person. What I learn in my classrooms is how to use science to make someone’s life better, easier or simply happier.
What is your career goal? Why did you choose it?
I haven’t settled on a concrete career quite yet. My goal is to work as an intermediary between the researchers who are generating new information in their labs and the individuals who will ultimately benefit from this information. I am considering work as an Extension agent, a program designer for science museums or a writer for an agriculture magazine.
What have you learned that you will take with you when you graduate?
I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Holland the summer after my freshman year. This was a great experience to get my feet wet; I learned a lot about the plant breeding process and got to experience what it’s like to work in a lab.
Now, I’m working in another laboratory that is partnered with the NC State Plants For Human Health Institute. Here, I get to put to work the knowledge I’ve gained from my classes as well as the skills I learned from working in Dr. Holland’s lab in order to generate information that could better human health.
Tell me about an experience outside the classroom.
I’ve also studied abroad in Mexico, which is where my roots are. That experience was incredible, not only because we had the opportunity to be fully emerged in the Mexican culture, but also because I got to share an important part of my identity with my peers.
Best thing about CALS?
Feeling like you are doing something important and good.