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College freshman and ECHS alumna Joanna Mas was recently selected to participate in the summer research program at her college, the University of Richmond. The work will be done in tandem with her professor and will focus on mitochondria and the factors that influence their function.

“The opportunity to do research so early in my college career is an extremely valuable experience that the University of Richmond gives to its first-year students,” she says.

In addition to this program, she’s had the opportunity to perform DNA analysis on fish to determine if local retailers are mislabeling their catches to increase profit, participate in a cohort learning community, and take a challenging roster of six classes, which includes a 200-level biology course and an intro to college chemistry course for STEM majors. Aside from her engagements in the classroom, Joanna also spends her time partaking in the University of Richmond travel club volleyball team, which participates in tournaments all around the region. 

Although she is currently undeclared, her plan is to declare a double major in biology and health studies, as well as an art minor. She hopes to one day go into physical therapy.

“College has been a wonderful environment for me to branch out and dig into the fields of interest that EC gave me the opportunity to explore when I was younger,” she adds. 

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Mas, who took 7 Seton Hall dual enrollment courses while at Eastern Christian, is especially grateful for her Chemistry Honors course. She explains, “some of my current classmates are struggling with concepts, and it was definitely helpful I took the class. At the time, it felt challenging, but now I am really grateful to have taken that class because it was the level of difficulty I needed.” She also explained that Eastern Christian’s course load prepared her for operating lab machines and for following standard lab procedures, saying, “A lot of people have had a very limited experience doing the lab techniques. I have a slight edge.”

Mas also took advantage of Eastern Christian’s internship program called WINGS, where she did observation hours and worked at a physical therapy clinic called Healing Hands rehab. She adds, “It was really valuable, as I was able to get a handle on how a day would look like with a physical therapist and a private practice. In addition, [the therapist] often went to conferences to gather new knowledge, and when he did, he shared that with me. It was a really good use of my time, especially as a senior.”

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