NMU Honors Program Alumni Spotlight

Name: Justine Pinskey

NMU dates of attendance:

2005-2009 (undergraduate)

2010-2012 (graduate)

Degrees received:

Bachelor of Arts in Biology (minors in Chemistry and Art and Design) awarded December, 2009.

Master's degree in Biology awarded May, 2012.

Please tell us about your current endeavors.

"I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan. My thesis research is on a cell-signaling pathway that is important in both embryonic development and cancer. By understanding how this pathway is regulated, we hope to find better treatments for tumors that rely on this pathway for growth."

What are your plans for the future?

"After finishing graduate school, I plan to complete a post-doctoral fellowship and eventually become a tenured faculty member at an academic institution. I hope to find a position that involves both research and teaching, as I am very passionate about both."

Please describe your experience in the NMU Honors Program.

"I chose to complete the full honors program. The classes were challenging, but I learned a ton, and I really enjoyed getting to know the honors students. Because we took many of the same classes, we often studied together, and I felt like we relied on one another for support. For my senior thesis, I worked with Dr. Rob Winn in the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center studying a type of brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforme. Working in Dr. Winn's lab gave me the inspiration and experience to pursue a career in Biomedical Research, and I am eternally grateful for that opportunity."

What did you enjoy most about being in the NMU Honors Program?

"I really enjoyed the academic challenge and unique environment that the honors program provided. The classes were smaller than regular introductory lectures, allowing for much more discussion and interaction between students and faculty. I had opportunities to do presentations, use my creativity, and get over my fear of speaking in class. I read more than I thought possible, and I made lifelong friends."

How did the NMU Honors Program prepare you for your future endeavors?

"While in the honors program at NMU, I learned to be self-motivated and to manage my time. I also learned how to fail. It sounds strange, but failure is a part of life, especially in science where experiments often don't work and ideas often don't pan out. The honors program also taught me how to persevere through difficult situations, knowing that the quality of work and the feeling of accomplishment in the end are well worth it."

What advice would you give to current and future students of the NMU Honors Program?

"You can achieve more than you think you can. Challenge yourself instead of relying on others to challenge you. Try new things. Give yourself room to grow. Don't be so hard on yourself, and don't ever be ashamed of your intelligence."