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Student Snapshot: Rachel Flame ’22

Rachel Flame '22

Rachel Flame ’22 (biochemistry & molecular biology) is a student-athlete, student-mentor and teaching assistant who's also found the time to conduct student-faculty research with four science professors! Below, she discusses all this and more, and offers advice on how to get the most out of college.

Hometown:

Wilmington, Delaware.

Major

Biochemistry & molecular biology.

Clubs and organizations:  

Presidential Fellows, women’s tennis, Kappa Alpha Theta, Asbell Center for Jewish Life, teaching assistant, Bio Buddies (student-mentor) and Tritons.

Honors/scholarships/awards:

John Montgomery Scholarship, Trustee Scholarship, Dean’s List, Order of Omega, Gamma Sigma Alpha, 2021 Centennial Conference All-Sportsmanship Team member, 2021 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar Athlete and Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll.

Favorite book:

Does Tennis Magazine count?

Favorite movie:

Beauty and the Beast (I am a huge Disney fan).

On choosing Dickinson:

I was originally looking at colleges down South, where the weather is warmer, but my parents insisted that I tour some schools closer to where we live. We looked at several Centennial Conference schools, but my first tour of Dickinson piqued my interest. Everyone was so friendly, encouraging, warm and welcoming. And it seemed that the students were so excited to be at Dickinson. I was recruited by the tennis coach. During an overnight with the women’s tennis team, I attended classes, stayed in the dorm, ate in the Dining Hall and, of course, got to know the team members. After that, I just knew Dickinson was the place to be.  

Favorite place on campus:

The Kline or Rector. Depends on the occasion.

Best thing about my major:

There are many great things about being a biochemistry & molecular biology major, but my favorite “great thing” is the professors. Students and professors spend a lot of time together, between classes, labs and research projects. That provides us with an opportunity to get to know each other personally. My professors have always been willing to take the time to help if I am confused. And during the spring semester, it never fails that my professors always ask about the tennis team … although all my athletic clothing probably reminds them!

As I kid, I wanted to be …

… a veterinarian.

Post-Dickinson plans:

After Dickinson, I hope to get a job that combines my knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology with communications. I am currently thinking a sales or representative position in the chemical, pharmaceutical or medical device fields.

Little-known hobby/talent:

I can hula-hoop for hours!

Favorite professor:

While I really hate to choose certain professors, Associate Professor of Biology Dana Somers and Professor of Biology Tom Arnold are tied at the top of my list!  I had class with Professor Somers my freshman year and asked her to be my academic advisor. She has been guiding me all throughout my years at Dickinson and has always been willing to offer advice or help. Professor Arnold is my research advisor. Since working with him, I feel like we have connected both with the research and as people, especially about tennis!

Best thing about my Dickinson experience:

The best thing about my experience at Dickinson is that I am not limited in who I can be and the interests I can pursue. My studies are incredibly important to me, and playing on the women’s tennis team is my passion. But at Dickinson, I’m able to participate in other activities. Dickinson allows me to “get out of my comfort zone” and try things I may not have tried at a larger school.

Proudest accomplishment so far:

I have to say, becoming the person that I am today. I truly make an effort to get out of my comfort zone, try new things and meet new people. Now it’s just a part of who I am!

About my fellowship:

As a Presidential Fellow for Dickinson, I have been reaching out to speak with alumni of all ages to learn about their experiences at Dickinson, and what they feel is important for Dickinson in the future. This fellowship has provided me with a chance to speak with a lot of Dickinson graduates (over 50 alumni by the middle of July), to hear their stories and opinions about their time at the school and how Dickinson influenced them after graduation. While our ages and experiences may be different, we have the common bond of a Dickinson education and experience.

Advice to new students:

If you want something, always ask. The worst thing someone can say is no. The second piece of advice is for first-years and sophomores: Go see your professors! Whether it’s to get help with a class or just to get to know them a bit better. Making an effort to get to know them a bit makes class a lot more fun. I also have had several opportunities come about probably because of these personal relationships with professors: I was asked to be a teaching assistant and Bio Buddy mentor, and I am currently a student researcher with four professors. My professors even plan to come to my tennis matches!

About my research:

The title of my project is The Role of Epigenetics and HDAC Inhibitors in Preventing Neurodegenerative Disease. That title is a very fancy way of saying that I am researching how molecules (called HDAC inhibitors) impact genetics and influence whether a person is impacted by neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, etc.

I’m doing this research with Professor Arnold, and he is (honestly!) the reason I pursued this research. While taking Metabolism with him during the remote semester, he connected with students, even over Zoom. It is incredibly important to feel like you connect with your professors and can learn and laugh with your research professor, as you spend a lot of time together.

The research we have done has been incredibly interesting, and I have learned a ton about neurology, neurodegenerative disease, and lab techniques I would not have otherwise learned. I will be working with Professor Arnold again this coming fall.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

I have grown a lot as a person while at Dickinson. Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is just how important it is to get out of your comfort zone and get involved! I made a conscious decision to try new experiences and meet new people. After all, if you don’t like an activity or group you joined, you don’t have to return. I never imagined myself going through sorority recruitment or attending events at the Asbell Center. But I enjoy being a Theta as well as the friends I have made. Being a student-athlete definitely doesn’t define my Dickinson experience.

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Published August 6, 2021

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