Scot Summer Stories: Paulo Nunes

Paulo is interning in Bolivia as a researcher & clinical assistant.

For our Scot Summer Stories, we're catching up with a few of our student-athletes to see what they have been up to this summer. In this week's feature we talk with Paulo Nunes, a rising senior on the men's soccer team and a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major. Paulo is interning in his hometown as a researcher and clinical assistant at the Laboratorio de Análisis Clínicos BIO-CELL in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. 

Q: First off, give us an idea what you're doing exactly in Bolivia.

A: This summer I'm working at Laboratorios de Analysis Clínicos in Santa Cruz, Bolivia analyzing and assessing illnesses for low income or underprivileged individuals in the city and its surrounding areas. I am working in the clinic in the mornings and in the lab analyzing various samples in the afternoons. 

Q: Walk us through what a normal day entails for you.

A: In the mornings I arrive at the clinic and I assist in assessing patients' vital signs, as well as retrieving samples by drawing blood, and receiving urine and fecal samples. In the afternoons I work in the lab. These first few weeks I have spent most of my time working in Hematology and Urology. I run various tests alongside other lab technicians to analyze any abnormalities that can help the doctors determine what illnesses a certain individual may have.  

Q: How did find out about the Laboratorio de Análisis Clínicos BIO-CELL in Santa Cruz?

A: Laboratorio de Análisis Clínicos BIO-CELL is one of the largest and most trusted labs and clinics in the city, and I was told it was the leading lab in the country. I sent a few emails to the owner and head researcher explaining my desire to learn more about her work as well as my passion for helping low income and underprivileged communities. Furthermore, I explained that I am a biochem major pursuing a medical career as well as a first-generation immigrant wanting to reconnect with my Bolivian roots and she was extremely receptive towards me. 

Q: Is helping underprivileged individuals something you're looking to apply to your degree after college? 

A: Helping underprivileged individuals is something I am most definitely looking to apply to my degree after college. I hope to become a medical doctor to help address the need for bilingual doctors in our community. Growing up from modest roots I have seen and experienced the difficulty of living as a minority or a low-income family and I feel as if there is more we can do to help these families. 

Q: So you talked about wanting to reconnect with your Bolivian roots. Have you felt like you've done that this summer and if so, in what ways? What family do you have in Santa Cruz and is that who you're staying with this summer?

A: I have felt like I have been able to reconnect with my Bolivian roots in numerous ways. I am living with my grandmother, and she has taken me to significant places in our family's history such as the house we lived in when our family still lived in Bolivia as well as other relatives' homes. Furthermore, she's shown me historical sites as well as given me brief history lessons on those places. Finally, she has connected me with "long lost relatives" as I call them because they all knew me and remembered me from when I was very young, but I didn't know them. This is because the few times that I have been back to visit have only been for a few days at a time, and it was usually due to an event such as a wedding or graduation, leaving us little time to do anything else. The family I have in Santa Cruz is my mother's side of the family. A large portion of the family lives in the city though there are some family members that live in a small town in the country (Marco Rancho) where my great grandmother is from.

Q: By the end of your internship what are you hoping to accomplish and takeaway from your time spent there?

A: By the end of my internship I hope to further my skills in the lab, as well as my patient-health care professional interactions. I also hope to be as helpful I can to positively impact the lives of as many people as I can while I am here. 


About APEX Fellowships

APEX Fellowships offer structure and mentored support to students engaged in unpaid summer internships or vocational exploration programs of at least six weeks (or at least 225 hours) in duration. The fellowship includes funding, a learning contract, regular structured reflection, final reflective assignment and evaluation, on-campus reporting, and ongoing staff support. This summer, the College's experiential learning team funded 60 such fellowships. To learn more about the College's APEX Fellowship program click here.