This seems like a pretty great program:

Before Justin Jefferson got to college, the only kinds of doctors he or his parents had ever heard of were physicians and preachers. Not many researchers and teachers with doctorates live amid the gunshots of east San Antonio’s housing projects, the only world that he and his parents — both manual laborers — knew.

He arrived at the University of Texas at Austin a biology major, hoping to fulfill pre-med requirements, go on to medical school and become a physician, working toward a career goal his family could understand and respect. It was also the only career trajectory he knew of that would allow him to pursue his love of the natural sciences.

But, in the fall of 2007, during his sophomore year, Jefferson noticed a flier for the Pre-Graduate School Internship, a program created in 2004 to help undergraduates figure out their academic and career goals by pairing them with graduate students or faculty members. Though he didn’t really know what the program was, he signed up anyway and was paired with Deena Walker, a neuroscience graduate student in UT’s College of Pharmacy.

When they met, Walker says, Jefferson “didn’t think there was anything he could do with an interest in science other than becoming a medical doctor.” Now, though, after two years of working in Walker’s lab, studying how the brain controls reproductive physiology, “he really likes research and is seriously considering a career that includes research in some way,” she says.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.