Since stepping into the role of Associate Dean at UMBC-Shady Grove in August of 2018 to oversee undergraduate and graduate applied biotechnology programs, time has surely flown by. I’m completing only my fifth fall/spring semester but this one is special. This semester, the first three students of UMBC’s new undergraduate biotechnology program, a Bachelor of Science in Translational Life Science Technology (TLST), are graduating.
I couldn’t be prouder of Charmaine Hipolito, Loic Soumani Mowa, and Titina Sirak. Because of COVID-19, we are unable to celebrate this milestone with them during commencement as we normally would. So I want to salute them here –– congratulations on completing your bachelor’s degree and being the inaugural graduates of UMBC’s TLST program at The Universities at Shady Grove!
Along with the other students in the TLST program who will graduate over the next year, they have paved the way for future TLST students by being smart, hard-working, and gracious students who are passionate about science and its application in making life-saving medical products. We need your talent more than ever in the biotechnology workforce.
UMBC’s TLST degree uniquely prepares students for the many jobs in the growing biotechnology industry where medical products are made. Among the 300-plus biotech companies in Montgomery County, there will be hundreds of jobs opening in the next few years to work on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, cell and gene therapy products, and other novel biopharmaceuticals. In the TLST program, students complete a hands-on, multidisciplinary program that includes cell biology, bioinformatics, epidemiology, and biomanufacturing courses, as well as internships at biotechnology companies or in the TLST lab doing research.
When graduating from the TLST bachelor’s degree program, students will have an applied understanding of the many facets of science and engineering used to make medical products and relevant experience to lead them into a secure and impactful biotechnology career.
With Charmaine, Loic and Titina, I had the pleasure of witnessing their growth in knowledge, experience and professionalism in the TLST program. They not only understand the science, engineering, legal, and organizational aspects of making a medical product, they have also gained excellent laboratory, computer, critical thinking and communication skills. They acquired work experience from UMCP’s Biotechnology Research and Education Program (BREP), GeneDx, AstraZeneca, Kite Pharma and American Gene Technologies, which solidified their classroom learning, improved their professionalism, and grew their network. They now have many options to consider for their postgraduate plans.
Whatever Charmaine, Loic and Titina decide to pursue after graduating, I know they will leverage their education in the TLST program to achieve successful careers in biotechnology. I wish them and the soon-to-be TLST graduates all the best!