Going to college was not the standard for Chapman alumnus Brady Slater, especially growing up in a small town. In fact, only 15% of his high school class went on to college. Given the statistics, Slater graduated from high school and attended Chapman University, graduating in 2016 with a major in General Biology. Slater is currently set to graduate from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas in May 2022.
Now in his third year of medical school, Slater reflects on the valuable experiences he had while at Chapman. He attributes his success to mentors and programs throughout his undergraduate years like the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).
SURF is a paid eight-week program organized by the Center for Undergraduate Excellence (CUE). Fellows have the option of participating in ongoing research or creative program or creating their own projects based on their unique interests while working with a faculty mentor. At the end of the program, fellows present their findings at the Summer Research Conference.
Before SURF, Slater began his research when he took a physiology course with Dr. Kenneth Sumida, who then became his mentor for research. Their research project focused on the effects of resistance training exercises and caloric restrictive diets on bone mineral density and bone strength. They tested these metrics in the animal research lab, specifically on male rats.
The following year, Slater was awarded SURF and led the same study, but with female rats. By conducting the research in male and female rats, Slater was able to analyze and compare the effects of bone density on both sexes. This research set a foundation for future experiments Slater would conduct.
“That’s the first time I’d ever been exposed to that type of research—bench-type research as well as animal research. It was a great experience that I still pull from today in medical school. A lot of the lab tests that we run on patients for different infectious diseases or autoimmune disorders will look for antibodies using those exact same types of tests that I was running as a SURF fellow at Chapman.”
Aside from research, Slater worked at Chapman’s Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC), then as a Supplemental Instructor (SI) for Dr. Sumida for two years. Before starting medical school, Slater taught high school biology for two years in Dallas, Texas. “The reason I wanted to become a high school teacher is because of my work as a SI at Chapman; from then I figured out I love teaching. I said ‘I think I want to be a med school teacher but I also really want to be a high school teacher, and med school wasn’t going anywhere.’”
When asked about advice to undergraduate students, he replied with finding a good mentor. “[My mentors] have done so much for me and I’m trying to pay it back to show them their time investment was worth it. It’s a key fact that no one can do it on their own.” For Slater, giving back to the community drives his career path. After receiving his M.D. and finishing up residency in pediatrics genetics, Slater wants to teach at the undergraduate or medical school level.
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