Wednesday, January 07, 2015

[236] MTSU professional science masters students juggle families, education

MURFREESBORO — For more than five years, MTSU graduate student Dianna Prince has juggled family and her college education.

The juggling act includes being a single mother to 5-year-old son Brody, graduating from MTSU in 2013 with her bachelor’s degree in biology, living with parents Bobby and Vicki Prince and commuting about two hours a day round-trip from home in Estill Springs, Tennessee.

Dianna Prince, 25, who will graduate Dec. 13 from MTSU, will have earned her MTSU Master of Science in Professional Science in biology degree from the Department of Biology.

On Thursday (Dec. 4), Prince and 12 peers made end-of-the-semester presentations from their internships with corporate and collegiate entities. One student, Chasity McClinton, is a Jones College of Business master’s in business education degree candidate.

The program, commonly called professional science masters or PSM, is an award-winning two-year master’s degree in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM disciplines, equipping students for work in public and private business and academia.

“It’s not tough any more. I make it work and my family helps tremendously,” said Prince, whose biology internship was under the guidance of Dr. Elliot Altman, an MTSU researcher and director of the Interdisciplinary Molecular Biosciences Ph.D. Program.

The internship involved assisting Ashley Cole, a doctoral student, as they worked with protein folding, Prince said.

“They (protein) are tiny,” Prince said. “They have to fold into 3-dimensional structures to become functional.”

Calling it a great experience, Prince said the internship led her to be accepted into the MTSU doctoral program starting in January when the spring semester begins.

“My internship opened a lot of doors for me,” she said. “I got to add a lot of techniques to my skills list.”

The skills list included PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, and DNA sequencing.

Scarlett Murphy, now 28, earned her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering technology from MTSU in 2008.

Since then, she married former Blue Raider football player Jeff Murphy, began working at the Murfreesboro plant for Dayton, Ohio-based Standard Register, began graduate school and learned in the latter stage of the internship she was pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Murphy’s internship, with her own company, included overseeing the integration of a company acquired by Standard Register in Livermore, California.

“You just have to learn how to adapt,” Murphy said of the integration process. “Part of being a good project manager is being able to overcome obstacles.”

In addition to Prince and Murphy, the presenters included:

• Brent Carpenetti, actuarial science, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee;
• Justin Reilly, engineering management, Feintool;
• Christina Johns, health care informatics, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System/Veterans Affairs;
• Rosiski Kansakar, health care informatics, Community Health Systems;
• Zahra Sultan, health care informatics, TennCare;
• Brad Wires, health care informatics, Community Health Systems;
• Chasity McClinton, College of Business, MTSU Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technologies Center;
• Olivia Akinpelu, biotechnology, Encapsula Nanosciences;
• Fatmah Hani, biotechnology, Encapsula Nanosciences;
• Imtiyazuddin Mohammed, biotechnology, Encapsula Nanosciences;
• Shayan Rouhanifard, biotechnology, Virtual Drug Development Inc.; and
• Shannon Smith, biotechnology, MTSU Center for Environmental Education and Studies.

“We have another outstanding group of students,” said Saeed Foroudastan, director of the program.

Program coordinators include Lisa Bloomer-Green (biostatistics); Clay Harris (geosciences); Don Hong (actuarial sciences); Greg Sedrick (engineering management); Rebecca Seipelt-Thiemann (biotechnology); and Vincent Smith (business core coordinator). The health care informatics coordinator position is vacant.

The program has an outstanding retention rate and has an outstanding graduation rate. In 2010, the Tennessee Board of Regents recognized the program with the Academic Excellence Award.

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