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My name is Natasha Odom, and I am a Biomedical Sciences major on the Pre-Medical track. This will be my fourth year at UCF. In 2021, I graduated from Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando, Florida. One of my favorite classes at UCF was Directed Independent Research with Dr. Hanson. This was an excellent opportunity to learn crucial lab skills and biochemistry principles in a setting where I was allowed multiple attempts at learning. The research I have conducted in her lab utilizes techniques that she developed herself including the micromanipulation of DNA. My project is specifically focused on “The Collection and Transfer of Epithelial Cells in Forensic Touch DNA Samples.” Dr. Hanson is also my favorite professor because she makes the time to get to know her students and creates a positive learning environment. Getting to know your professors on a more personal level outside of the classroom is a great way to make connections and can be helpful if you ever need professional advice! I love GEMS because it is more than an academic program. As a freshman, GEMS was one of the ways I made friends in what can sometimes feel like such a big school! It’s nice to know that even after a few years, you will likely have classes with the same students you started with through this program, so in a way, everyone supports each other. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends and family (especially my twin sister), painting, traveling, trying new foods, and listening to music. Words of wisdom for mentees: Get to know your professors! It may seem overwhelming but they are there to help you whether that be working through course content or going to them for professional advice.