Last week in the Wilson Reading Room, Science Faculty Dr. Roberto Aguilar addressed WRA Cancer Immunology students during the first annual "White Coat Ceremony." The ceremony -- which honored students as they graduated from working in communal blue coats in the Cancer Immunology Lab to receiving new and personalized white coats of their own -- celebrated the 11 young researchers who transitioned from apprentice to mentor within the Cancer Immunology Program.
Earlier this month, Cancer Immunology students stepped outside their lab to work in the Wang Innovation Center -- the 6,000-square-foot collaborative learning space -- where they learned to use the embroidery machine to personalize their white coats. Aguilar asks that each student embroider the WRA logo along with their names on their coats.
Aguilar, who assembled and harnessed a cancer research lab and program on the campus of Western Reserve Academy in 2015 -- an offering no other high school can claim -- briefly spoke during the ceremony about the joy in seeing new students learn.
"It seems just like yesterday that you, second year Cancer Immunology students, were being continuously told, "Close your pipette tips! Lock your drawers! Don't stab the gel!" said Aguilar, referring to students' early days as budding researchers and scientists.
Aguilar then shared the satisfaction of seeing his students excel and grow in such a program.
"As you transition from apprentice to mentor, I expect to hear you echo some of my same words. Some of our same words. There is no greater satisfaction than to see those that we have taught teach others."
Aguilar explained the nature of the change in ranks and gravity of what the students have worked on together.
"You are joining the ranks of those who have one common goal," Aguilar said. "We have decided to take on the fight against cancer in our lab, not so that we can treat it, but so we can eradicate it from the face of the earth! You have taken the baton and now it is up to you to help train the forward thinkers of tomorrow."
Then, Aguilar passed the figurative baton -- in the form of a microphone that day -- to the third year Cancer Immunology students who offered advice for their second year peers.
"Walk into class everyday looking to learn something new," said Lauren L. '20
"Just because something seems unreasonable, it doesn't mean you can't reach it with a little patience and work," said Lauren S. '20
"Never stop asking questions. Don't take anything for granted. Question it and keep researching and asking why it's happening," said Jad D. '20
After everyone gave their heartfelt advice, the second year students were recognized and donned their new white coats.
Congratulations to Sophie B. '20, Brooke A. '21, Helena S. '21, Sebatian F. '21, Audrey R. '21, Lizzie K. '21, Olivia H. '21, Karthik R. '21, Carl Z. '21, and Erika C. '21 and Tiger M. '21.
For even more information on the cancer immunology program at Reserve, read here.