During the summer of 2018, Bennett College senior Constance Staley participated in a prestigious internship in the Graves Lab at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, an academic collaboration between North Carolina A&T State University and UNCG.
She learned about the internship from former Bennett Provost Dr. Dorothy C. Browne and Dr. Rasheena Edmondson, an assistant professor of biology at Bennett.
“During the internship, we transferred cells daily as part of an experimental evolution protocol,” Staley said. “We worked a lot with cells and learned about different lab techniques. My favorite part was when I learned how to prepare genomic libraries for DNA sequencing.”
Staley, a senior chemistry major from Ramseur, North Carolina, aspires to be a cardiologist. She said being accepted for the internship was a blessing.
“The internship lasted the entire summer, and we worked Monday through Friday from 9 to 5,” she said. “There were other student interns from UNCG, UNC Asheville and also East Carolina University. I made some friends through the internship, and we still talk to each other today.”
Instead of living on campus during the summer, Staley opted to commute from her hometown and accept a stipend. She describes the internship as amazing.
“The amount of information I learned was invaluable,” she said. “It was really a good internship. Dr. Graves is absolutely wonderful. We worked in his lab, and we had meetings with him every Monday. He kept up with our progress and was very nice.”
Graves, interim dean of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering and a professor of biological sciences at A&T, said Staley was a mainstay of the genomics research group during the summer.
“Constance participated in daily bacterial culture maintenance, physiological performance assays of metal and antibiotic resistance, as well as genomic library preparation for DNA sequencing,” Graves said. “She also attended the summer research congress of Biocomputational Evolution in Action (BEACON) at Michigan State University, where she had the opportunity to meet and interact with top researchers and students in evolutionary science from five research universities. She is continuing her work with my group this fall in conjunction with Dr. Edmondson.”
Staley will also be busy this fall in her role as vice president of Bennett’s Student Government Association. No stranger to campus leadership, she served as treasurer of the Minority Association of Pre-professional Students (M.A.P.S.) during her junior year, and as president of the Chemistry Club, a position she still holds. Staley is also president of the Zeta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.®
Moreover, she is an LSAMP Scholar, a GlaxoSmithKline Scholar, a member of the Beta Kappa Chi National Scientific Honor Society and a member of the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society at Bennett. Among Staley’s hobbies are reading, singing, playing the alto saxophone and attending First Pentecostal Church in Asheboro, where she’s been a member since birth and sings in the choir.
“Constance Staley is the epitome of a Bennett Belle,” said President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins. “She’s very conscientious about her studies and manages to earn good grades while being involved in several extra-curricular activities. I am so proud of her for landing the Nanoscience and Nanoengineering internship over the summer, and I have no doubt she will continue doing well and one day become a physician.”