In 2014, then-student of Nazarbayev University, Zeinaf was just 21 years old. Thanks to the grant of Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation won by her she did a summer research at the Institute of immunology and vascular biology in Harvard Medical School. And now — in the middle of 2017 — she got her master’s degree and plans to start a doctoral program in the Medical School of Université Paris-Sud XI (France). The girl chose oncology as her major there.
1. Why did you choose Biology at the University?
Entering the University from my home Lenger in South Kazakhstan oblast, I was determined to go on further to medical school and become a doctor. In my freshmen year I began volunteering in hospitals’ different departments. The Department of Oncology gave a very strong impression on me. It was sad to realize that doctors are almost powerless in their fight against cancer. Since I started to study various types of cancers and to work in the laboratories of the University. I was captivated, and by the time I obtained a bachelor degree, I knew for sure that I wanted to become a scientist-oncologist and was willing to contribute to the fight against cancer.
2. What was most difficult in the competition for the internship’s grant?
In the selection process the most difficult part for me personally was the psychological test. He lasted three hours, and from the outset each of the participants was very tense. We probably were afraid that “wrong” answer would definitely negatively affect our chances on winning a Foundation’s grant.
3. What interesting happened during the internships?
For the first time in my life I started experimenting (on mices). I was taught how to make models to study different types of disease, to take blood and organs for analysis, and consistently conduct these tests. In addition, my laboratory has registered me for summer school at the University. Twice a week I went to lectures and trainings. All students of that school were Americans, my peers. We talked a lot and I learned their views on life, I realized that their attitude to work differs from mine. Over that summer, I learned a lot. Whatever learned in the lab was useful to me in further study.
4. The outcomes of the internship program for you?
Throughout the internship I realized what are the skills and knowledge needed to be a real scientist. Realized that in order to be the most productive in your work you should be very open minded. After studying at the bachelor’s degree at Nazarbayev University, I decided to get a masters, in a program which will be a lot of chemistry and physics and the result was entering the University of Paris XI. Now I almost finished here studying physical chemistry — I majored in radiation biology. And I am looking forward to doctoral studies at the medical school of the same University, specializing in oncology. I’m going to study how radiation therapy affects immune cells surrounded by cancerous tumors.
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