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Amechelle Leander, Class of ’24, Secures Prestigious CDC Internship


As the summer approaches, Amechelle Leander, a senior double major getting a BA in Biology and a BS in Public Health at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), is gearing up for a transformative summer internship experience. Amechelle has been accepted into an internship program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a milestone that holds immense significance for her journey as a first-generation student. 

In a recent interview, Amechelle shared her thoughts on what this opportunity means to her. “This opportunity is huge for me,” she expressed with palpable excitement. “As a first-generation student and immigrant, these huge opportunities are sometimes unheard of.” For Amechelle, this internship represents more than just a career stepping stone; it symbolizes overcoming barriers and making her family proud of her achievements.

Discovering this opportunity was a journey in itself for Amechelle. She diligently searched for potential job prospects after graduation, focusing on fields like mosquito lab research and entomology positions. After weeks of exploration, she stumbled upon the Entomological Society of America’s Public Health Entomology For All Program, which partners with the CDC. 

After looking for weeks, the opportunity with the Entomological Society of America, Public Health Entomology For All Program, which partners with the CDC, popped up on my search results. I applied and did two rounds of interviews, one of which included CDC personnel, and was offered the position,” Amechelle reflects. 

Amechelle notes that her academic journey here at TCNJ has played a pivotal role in preparing her for this exciting opportunity. As a Biology major, she has been involved in independent research in Dr. Wund’s lab, an experience that ignited her passion for research and honed her public speaking skills, making her adept at communicating during interviews. 

Discussing her experiences, Amechelle noted, “Being part of independent research as a Biology major in Dr Wund’s Lab at the college skyrocketed my interest in being a researcher. In this lab, I’ve built my confidence in public speaking, making it easier to communicate during interviews.

When asked to reflect on working with Amechelle in his lab, Professor of Biology, Dr. Matthew Wund, expressed that “Amechelle has so many excellent qualities of character and mind: she’s smart, organized, creative, thoughtful, diligent, responsible, and is a great team player. When she sees that a task needs to be completed, she never waits to be told to do it, or for someone else to come along to do it. Instead, she sees a problem and fixes it. She is just a fantastic teammate and student researcher. Most especially, she is passionate about using her skills to advance science and benefit the larger community. She is truly a special young woman who is already having a positive impact on the world. I can’t wait to see how her career unfolds.”

Amechelle also notes that her involvement in the lab has also nurtured her leadership qualities, instilling the confidence needed to excel in her upcoming role. Additionally, courses like Entomology with Prof. Mark Mayer and a public health course in Environmental and Occupational Health with Dr. Alexis Mraz have allowed her to further explore her interests in entomology and public health, providing her with valuable and unique insights and knowledge.

For Amechelle, this internship transcends the boundaries of a mere career opportunity; it symbolizes the triumph over adversity and the fulfillment of dreams long nurtured. As she prepares to delve into the realm of mosquito research, guided by seasoned professionals, she carries with her the pride of her family and the resilience of her journey.

Her path to this moment has been paved with dedication, resilience, and the unwavering support of her academic community at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Through rigorous coursework, hands-on research experiences, and the mentorship of esteemed professors, Amechelle has honed her skills and nurtured her passions, preparing herself not only for this internship but for a future bright with possibilities.

Written by School of Science Student Journalist, Jax DiEugenio


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