During her time at Basser, James gained experience in everything from vaccine trials to patient data entry. She felt especially prepared after her biology coursework at Hamilton. “I took Professor Natalie Nannas’ class Genes and Genomes right before I went to my internship,” James said. “I loved the material in her class; I loved how engaging it was. It challenged me, but I enjoyed it. At the Basser Center, it was really cool to understand the science behind what I was seeing and doing during my internship.”
Biology and genetics are topics that have interested James ever since her brother was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. “When the doctors gave my mom the diagnosis, they gave her just that: a diagnosis. We were given no resources, no support, so she had to struggle on her own,” James recalled. “In high school, my genetics teacher showed the class videos of genetic counseling sessions, and I saw how the counselors talked through certain disorders with the patients and then gave them resources so they could understand the next steps. Having watched my mom struggle, I wanted her to have somebody like that.”
James took advantage of the internship funding available through Hamilton’s Joan Hinde Stewart Career Development Program, a program that “provides career-related counseling and guidance to exceptional students with financial aid.” As a JHS student, James received help with living costs from Hamilton while at Basser.
To apply to the Basser Center, James utilized GOLDEN, the Genetics Opportunities, Learning, Development, and Empowerment Network. “GOLDEN constructs resources for minority students to make sure that we receive the support we need to start a career in genetic counseling,” James said.
This year at Hamilton, James will be continuing her studies in biology as well as supporting her peers through her involvement with WINGS, the Days-Massolo Center, and the ALEX advising program.
Taliyah James ’24
Hometown: Columbia, Miss.
High school: Columbia High School