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Intern from Africa overcomes challenges at McLaughlin Research Center

Posted at 9:09 AM, Jun 27, 2023

GREAT FALLS — Since 1954, the McLaughlin Research Institute in Great Falls has committed to serving as an educational resource for students in Montana through its Summer Internship program.

The Institute currently has eight summer interns learning about the nuances of working in the biomedical field of study.

One intern is in an unfamiliar place, 6,500 miles away from home - Burkina Faso.

“I am really interested in Parkinson's disease and all these brain-related diseases that they study,” said Mylene Sebogo.

Sebogo is a full-time student at the University of Providence in Great Falls, majoring in Biology and Health Professions.

Mylene Sebogo

The West African native wanted educational opportunities in the United States following her attendance at an American school in her home country. Her interest in science and a friendly nudge from professors led her to the internship program at McLaughlin.

“I’ve always had trouble with the college application process and getting scholarships… working with great people make it worth it," she said.

In any profession there are ups and downs and adversity to overcome, and for Sebogo the biggest challenge was the language barrier.

“I had to start learning English in ninth grade, and on the first day of classes, I couldn't understand anything. That was a big challenge to me, and it felt like I would never be able to get better. But with time and effort and support from my teachers and family, it worked out.”

Mylene is humble in nature, soft-spoken, and intelligent beyond measure. She doesn’t give herself the credit she deserves.

“I wouldn't see myself as like the smartest or brightest person.” She said.

Brenda Canine is an Assistant Professor at Touro University and a researcher at McLaughlin and one major characteristic of a scientist is resilience.

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“I think we get as much out of it as she does, to be quite honest. I think getting different perspectives and having different opinions and different reasons for why you're working on things really adds to the diversity and really adds to the quality of work.”

Sebogo is only one of eight interns currently at McLaughlin and her story shouldn’t diminish the hard work all the interns put in to earn this prestigious honor.

Canine told MTN News that it isn’t uncommon for these students and researchers to work alongside a Nobel Prize winner or that one will be nominated for one in the future. The entire class of interns had to put together a resume and get letters of recommendation and not everyone makes it. The experience each will receive during the internship will ultimately set them up for a career of success.

“I think hard work and really taking advantage of every opportunity you get is just because things start to work out as planned doesn't mean that you can't get far,” explained Sebogo.

McLaughlin Research Institute is working alongside Touro University with the intention of funneling students into medical programs at the new university which welcomes its inaugural semester this fall.

If there is a student interested in the McLaughlin Summer Internship Program, students can expect the application period to open in late fall/early summer 2023. For more information on how to join contact the office at 406-452-62019 or visit https://www.mclaughlinresearch.org/student-internships.