Learn about PREP from Victoria Stephens

Date: Monday, July 23, 2018

Victoria StephensVictoria Stephens recently completed the Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). This program is designed for recent graduates from traditionally underrepresented groups in biomedical fields to gain experience before entering graduate school.

Learn more about Stephens and how the PREP program prepared her for her future education and career.  

Hometown: Stone Mountain, Georgia

Undergraduate school: Albany State University

Undergraduate major: Forensic Science, Chemistry

Why did you decide to participate in PREP?

I decided to participate in PREP because I felt like the program’s curriculum was tailored in a way that would prepare me for my transition into graduate school.

How did PREP help prepare you for your future endeavors?

PREP gave me an experience that was parallel to the first year of graduate school. This opportunity allowed me to experience, firsthand, how graduate school would be structured including coursework and lab rotations. Because I was able to take this journey alongside actual graduate students, I could to talk to them about their experiences so far in the programs and about the application processes. To my surprise, a vast number of students I spoke with wish they had known about PREP before entering into graduate school!

With the knowledge of current graduate students and the preparation from PREP for graduate school and the interviews, I felt that I was prepared to take on my applications with minimal stress.

PREP gave a seminar that taught us how to pick graduate programs and what factors to look for in the program and school, which was very helpful. PREP also gave a seminar that taught us how to properly answer interview questions and things to include to personalize our visits that would set us apart from other interviewees. We also had mock interviews set up for us to give us that experience before going on actual graduate school interviews.

PREP let me assess myself as an individual. Like many, I have the impostor syndrome and I felt like I didn’t belong, nor did I feel qualified to continue into higher education. But, boy was I wrong! I got invited to interview and accepted into schools I thought I could only dream of. PREP allowed to me realize that confidence is key and a lack thereof is like building a wall between you and your goals all on your own.

What do you plan to do next?

I have decided to receive my doctoral training at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee through their Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP) in Biomedical Sciences.

While there, my main goal is to successfully complete my program and receive my doctorate. But of course, I’d like to participate in outreach programs to inspire others, including but not limited to underrepresented minorities, to believe that they are worthy and they too can do it!

Advice to others considering participating in PREP?

If you are considering PREP, be honest about the areas that you are lacking in as a student and scholar because this program can help you strengthen those areas. PREP will make you a more competitive applicant and a successful graduate student.

Learn more about our  Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program.