Upon his arrival at the University of Georgia, Dervin Cunningham hit the ground running.
A second-year Honors Student majoring in biological science, Dervin’s first year was highlighted by an appointment as a CURO Apprentice at the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, and he soon began working at UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, under the eye of Dr. Kelley Moremen.
“My CURO experience is something I’ve enjoyed, and I’m grateful for it because it constantly puts me in touch with great scientists and great resources,” says Dervin, who in addition to his two-year apprenticeship served as a CURO Summer Research Fellow. “As soon as I walked through the doors at UGA, I got to step into a lab and got to work with premier scientists doing breakthrough research. It made me feel a lot more comfortable working in the field of science.”
Dervin, who plans to pursue careers as both a medical doctor and a researcher, says his confidence at UGA has also been heightened by his participation in CURO.
“The CURO Apprenticeship is one thing that has really given me comfort,” he says. “Only 15 first years get it every year, so you’re in a class with 30 people. And these are really intelligent people, so being in that small environment on such a large campus gives you a sense of comfort.
“You have to present your research in front of them, and I was a little worried about my first presentation, but I soon realized these people genuinely wanted to help me and they all had the same apprehensions I was feeling. I got a whole lot more confident about what I was doing and felt a whole lot better about myself.”
While Dervin has gotten involved in several student organizations during his first year at UGA, he says his participation in Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) has been the most significant, adding he’ll serve as vice president of the local chapter this year. He also counts membership in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the UGA Navigators, a bible study group.
As the first person in his family to attend college, Dervin says he understands the responsibilities – both internal and external – he’s assumed.
“It’s humbling,” he says. “The only reason I have these opportunities is because my mom and dad have worked so hard to provide them for me. It’s cool knowing you’re the first one. My siblings look up to me, and it’s a good feeling. I want to always be there for them, and I look forward to advising them about college. I want them to know that they can achieve anything they want to do.”
In his second year on the UGA campus (but with an eye on a future as a physician-scientist), Dervin says he will continue to conduct research, focus on enhancing his GPA, and spend time improving the local community.
“I want to reach out more,” says Dervin, who plays the trumpet and is seeking a minor in music. “It’s something I like to do, and I like working with kids. It makes me feel better about myself when I can help a kid out.”
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