An Opportunity Becomes a Dream
Nothing in Terri McBride's humble beginnings indicated she would end up here. Born and raised in a low-income area of a Texas town, McBride, '14 Molecular Biology, is the first in her family to go to college.
"This doesn't happen to people with my background and where I came from," she says. McBride joined the Coast Guard at age 20, planning to use the benefits she would receive from the G.I. Bill to eventually put herself through college. Stationed in San Francisco as a cook on ships, McBride planned to serve for four years, but when her father passed away suddenly, those plans changed. She reenlisted for another six years of service and used her earnings to help support her mother and younger sister. As her experience in the kitchen grew, she was recruited to be a personal chef for a three-star admiral. In time, McBride found that while learning to accommodate the admiral's dietary preferences, she developed an unexpected interest in the science of healthy nutrition.
When her Coast Guard service concluded, McBride decided to pursue her newfound interest in San Jose State's Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging. In addition to her military benefits, McBride discovered she qualified for scholarships that would offer assistance with living expenses as well as tuition - an added support that she desperately needed.
"Receiving scholarships has given me not only the financial support, but also the emotional support to forge on," she says. "If it weren't for the generosity of donors, students like me could not dare to dream of getting this far."
After taking a biochemistry class and doing research in SJSU's Soto Lab, McBride found her true passion: a new path combining science with medicine. Last summer, she was selected from a large applicant pool to intern at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where she worked with a doctor doing cancer research. This life-changing experience has McBride considering medical school and doctoral programs. "It's scary for me to even dream this big given where I came from," she says. "An M.D. and Ph.D: Can this really happen for me?"
McBride is currently a life science research assistant in Cancer Biology at Sweet-Cordero Laboratory, Stanford School of Medicine.
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