Avery Young ’19 developed a deep interest in infectious diseases long before she ever stepped foot inside a Texas A&M University research laboratory.
The sophomore biology major began volunteering for medical mission trips with Friends of Fort Liberté, a non-profit organization that provides aid to the community of Fort Liberté, Haiti, when she was only 16. For two weeks each year, she assists doctors in a rural, sparsely stocked clinic as they treat illnesses and administer vaccinations to the locals.
“Infectious diseases in third-world countries — it’s definitely more prevalent there than it is here,” Young said. “It’s hard to have to see people with these things, but it’s also fascinating to me. My passion definitely came from that experience.”
But it was one moment in particular during her very first trip in 2013 that set her academic trajectory in motion. Young was tasked with caring for a four-month-old baby girl. As Young washed the weak, malnourished and scabies-covered child in a medicated bath to treat her painful sores, she wished there was a way she could do more.
She decided there was.
When the time came to apply for college, Young scoured tier-one research institutions with a critical, hopeful eye, ultimately deciding on Texas A&M. Once she officially enrolled as a freshman for fall 2016, Young wasted little time in searching for undergraduate research opportunities. One professor’s research focus especially piqued her interest — that of Dr. Joseph Sorg, a leading expert on the dangerous bacterial pathogen Clostridium difficile in the Texas A&M Department of Biology.
“I emailed him, stating that I was just a lowly freshman with almost no lab experience,” Young said. “He was more than willing to take a chance on me. He’s amazing.”
To read the article in its entirety please click on the following link: