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Chloe Mesa: The Day After Graduation I’ll Be On A Flight To Zimbabwe

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Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Meet The Researcher | Immunology and Infection (M.S.) | September 27, 2016

When Chloe Mesa’s grandfather was in the hospital battling cancer, it opened up her perspective on what her life goal was.

“I made a promise to him to make a difference, to use my knowledge and ability to help others and possibly be part of the process to find a cure.”

When in undergrad she enrolled as a nutrition and pre-pharmacy student. Her junior year, while working on her pharmacy application she received an email.

“It was from my microbiology professor informing me about the new Master’s of Science in Immunology and Infection at UT Health Science Center San Antonio,” she said.

In that moment she stopped what she was doing and made the decision to change her major senior year to biology and continue her research at UT Health Science Center and apply for the Master’s program. 

“I wanted to branch my knowledge and see where it took me, I trusted my gut and veered off the path I was on.”

As a biology major, Mesa had already been doing undergraduate research in Dr. Paolo Casali’s lab during her senior year.

“I realized I had a love for research so I took a chance and applied for the Master’s program,” she said. 

Once accepted and starting her first year at a new school she said, “The transition process was easy for me because I was already acquainted with many of the faculty and staff in the department.”

Mesa is working in Dr. Leadbetter’s lab, which focuses on iNKT cells. Her thesis project focuses on creating a new platform for a polysaccharide vaccine. 

“Our goal is to use nanoparticle delivery of a low dose of glycolipid adjuvant, alpha Galactosylceramide + S. pneumonia polysaccharide, in hopes of evading anergy and inducing protective antibodies against systemic infections.”

“My class was the first full class of the Master’s program,” she said. “It was newly created and for being the guinea pigs, our first year went smoothly. What I liked most was the enthusiasm that the professors had for the topics they taught which made it easy for us to be passionate about it too.”

Three days after graduation, Mesa will be on a flight to Zimbabwe to volunteer at an underserved hospital focusing on HIV/AIDS pediatric patients.

“My philosophy in life is to help as many people as I can and impact as many people as possible,” she said. “It will be my first time out of the country and I’m going by myself which is nerve racking. Despite that, I am excited for this life changing event.”

After returning from Zimbabwe, Mesa plans to work on a program she created in her hometown of Fort Stockton called “Survival of the Fittest” which is a motivational program focusing on soon-to-be college students with the goal to facilitate an effective and positive transition for them when they go off to college.

“I made it this far but I cannot deny that moving from a small rural town to a big city can be over whelming. I can help by sharing my insights and personal experiences.” she said. 

“Growing up, my mother told me to be humble and to give back to where you came from. Although I love San Antonio, my heart is in Fort Stockton.” 

This article is part of the "Meet The Researcher" series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. 

Photo Credit: City of Fort Stockton

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