St. Olaf student selected for Northwestern’s CURE program
St. Olaf College student Barite Gutama ’17 is one of just 12 college students from across the country who have been selected to conduct cancer research this summer through the Northwestern University Continuing Umbrella of Research Experience (CURE) program.
CURE, which takes place at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern, is designed for underserved students interested in pursuing careers in the biomedical sciences. In addition to hands-on research with top cancer experts, the program includes weekly seminars presented by faculty members that introduce students to the basics of cancer biology.
Gutama heard about CURE through the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career, which worked with Northwestern Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery Kevin Bethke ’78, a St. Olaf alumnus and regent, to encourage students to apply.
Gutama, whose own interest lies in chronic diseases, was drawn to this “firsthand research experience in the biomedical field at a national cancer institute.” As a student planning to pursue a career in medicine, she believes that experience in research is essential for her future profession.
“I want to have some research in my practice because that will help me to stay up-to-date and to better care for my patients,” she says.
In addition, Gutama is looking forward to “the opportunity to apply and extend my course knowledge in a real-world setting.” As a chemistry major with a concentration in biomolecular science, she has taken various classes at St. Olaf that have prepared her well for CURE, including those in organic chemistry, biochemistry, and genetics, as well as a seminar course in stem cell research and development.
Gutama participates in the TRIO McNair Scholars program at St. Olaf, which aims to increase doctoral degree attainment and participation in the professoriate by low-income and first-generation college students. She is also active in the TRIO Student Support Services program, which aims to support students in overcoming social or cultural barriers and achieving academic success.
These experiences have proved valuable in preparing Gutama for CURE as well. She emphasizes how greatly her faculty advisors have helped her think about her interests, reflect on her experiences, and envision where she sees herself in the future.
“All of the resources at St. Olaf helped me to seek out and find this internship,” she says.