Silence stretched across the room as twenty-two nervous bodies shared timid smiles and curious glances. Name tags adorning the large U-shaped table announced our name and high school to the group, and for an uncomfortable time frame were the only things communicating. What was I supposed to talk about with complete strangers? The only thing I knew about them was that we shared an interest in research.
Well, that wasn’t entirely true. Shaking knees, defensive posture, and shifting eyes declared that they were all just as uncomfortable as I was. Strengthened by that small piece of knowledge, I did something previously unthinkable for me. I broke the silence. My carefully crafted remark on the painful quiet successfully produced relived laughter from the assembly.
Ice now effectively broken, I began to get to know the people I would spend the next three summers with. That memorable first day at the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy (affectionally known as VBRA) was a whirlwind of new faces and new settings. The twenty-two of us who had made it through the rigorous selection process spent most of the day soaking in the newness of where we were and what we were getting ready to do. Promising the opportunity to allow high school...
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