CF Inspired Me to Pursue Pre-Med

Although I have no personal ties to people with cystic fibrosis, I developed my own connection to the disease -- first as a biology student understanding the science behind CF, and second as a member of the Tomorrow's Leaders College Program, where I learned about the people behind the statistics.

| 4 min read
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Stephanie Nunez
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“What's your connection to CF?” I get asked. With a brief pause, I respond that I have no connection.

So, you might be wondering how I got involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. To help you understand my journey, I have to take a step back into the past. I majored in biology at university. Several of my interests included learning about anatomy, the structure and function of proteins, and the pathogenesis of disease that ultimately led me to choose my major. I took the introductory courses that discussed mutations and learned about the basics of proteins and protein formation; thus, my very first understanding of cystic fibrosis started in the classroom. Learning about the disease from a scientific vantage point was merely the first layer that led to my eventual involvement with the Foundation.

Stephanie-Nunez-Bridge-Smile-Featured-Rectangle

My understanding of the CF community and who was a part of it didn't evolve until I graduated from university. It was the summer of 2020, and like many other graduates, I focused intently on the next step for myself, which included applying to jobs. I organized charts and tables that outlined job applications in great detail. Knowing that I needed some guidance and clarity with the application process under the haze of uncertainty during the pandemic, I decided to meet regularly with a member of the career center from my university.

I remember that during one of my meetings, my career advisor suggested that I look into the Tomorrow's Leaders College Program because of my interest in science, research, and medicine. That same day I browsed through the CF Foundation website and looked at the “apply” button that was staring right back at me on the luminescent screen. I was struck with the curiosity to learn more; and thus with the click of a button, I was through the second layer of getting involved.

Curiosity was what initially captured my attention, but meeting the CF community is what drew me in.

I learned so much through my involvement with the community, but one of the major things that I took away from the experience is that I learned to see CF through a multifaceted lens. I could take my initial understanding of the science behind CF and then see it through a new perspective that included the people behind the disease. I was motivated by people who spoke about advocacy and fundraising, which encouraged me to get more involved by signing up for advocacy alerts and start fundraising. Additionally, learning about the disease, the challenges, and victories from various perspectives are the parts that I enjoyed and stayed with me the most. Thus, the most integral layer to my involvement with CF has been getting to hear the voices behind the disease and the voices from the entire community that is working to find a cure.

The opportunity I have had with the CF Foundation has had an impact on me. Despite my lack of connection to CF, being involved made me realize that I can still make an impact and be another voice to advocate and get others to learn more. I have gone from understanding CF through a microscopic lens, to viewing it from a macroscopic and interdisciplinary approach that encompasses different facets.

No matter how I define my CF connection, I have learned I must never lose sight that behind the name and statistics of the disease, there is a strong group of CF fighters, families, and community.

Interested in sharing your story? The CF Community Blog wants to hear from you.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Stephanie earned a biology degree from Providence College and is a planning team member for the 2021 Tomorrow's Leaders College Program. She is from Rhode Island and lives with her parents and her energetic dog, Clifford. During her free time, she enjoys reading, learning languages, going on walks, and listening to music. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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