Yury Rincon arrived in this country from Colombia at the age of 10 knowing no English and with only her mother by her side. Today at 21, she is a successful student at County College of Morris (CCM), with a 3.3 grade point average, who has paved the way for other chemistry students at CCM to benefit from an internship at Pfizer. One of two students to take part in CCM’s first internship program at Pfizer last summer, she knows the value of such hands-on experience.
“Adding this internship to my resume is giving me a real advantage,” says Rincon. “It also has allowed me to become a leader at CCM by giving me confidence in my techniques. Everything that I have learned at CCM, I was able to put into practice at Pfizer.”
It was not until she arrived at CCM that Rincon discovered her ability to succeed in science. Working part-time as a pharmacy technician, she was intrigued by the world of pharmaceuticals, from the derivatives of their names, to their chemical compositions. But science and math were not her strong suit. Then she took a math course at CCM and was encouraged by her professor, Dale Garlick, to take Calculus II. Similarly, in her chemistry class she was encouraged by Professor Janet Johannessen to keep asking questions. “Her comment was that if I had a question, other students also were sure to have the same question.”
As an Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) student, Rincon also took advantage of the academic support services provided by the EOF staff.
“My first semester here was not so successful, but the attention I have gotten here, what I have experienced here, has really made a difference,” she says.
Her grades became so good that they, along with her strong determination, earned her the internship at Pfizer, along with another student who graduated from CCM last May. The internship was created through the relationships Professor Anthony DiStasio has established through CCM’s Industrial Advisory Committee for Biotechnology. His hope is that similar internships will be created at other leading companies in the area.
While the support Rincon has found at CCM has been critical to her success, she notes that it is her mother, Yolanda Merchan, who has provided her with the inspiration and motivation to succeed.
“My mom made a lot of sacrifices so I could get a good education. She was a manager of a healthcare facility in Colombia but gave that up to bring me to the United States so I could attend schools here,” says Rincon.
Rincon’s goal is to become a pharmacist and develop a career in the regulatory arena. Along with the practical experience she received from her internship, another benefit was the chance it gave her to talk with established scientists. “It showed me that what I am going through, others have gone through and they made it.”