Knight Times

The Student News Site of Arizona College Prep

Knight Times

Knight Times

Alena Appiah: ACP’s Future Ophthalmologist

Alena Appiah: ACPs Future Ophthalmologist

Doing what you are passionate about, despite any limitations, is important in order to lead a fulfilling life. Even if that is something you were just recently interested in, it is never too late to start. Senior Alena Appiah is proof of this. I had the chance to discuss this with her about her amazing accomplishment. She was awarded a scholarship from the American Society of Investigative Pathology to do research at Harvard Medical School. Alena got the opportunity to work with a postdoctoral mentor in novel therapies relating to diseases and metabolic pathways of the retina and macula.

When I asked her what inspired her to study ophthalmology, she stated, “I initially was not interested in pursuing STEM since I hated science up until my freshman year. I remember that year I went to the optometrist for a checkup and was browsing through posters on the walls, and I was really intrigued. I thought to myself, ‘how can an organ like the eye be so small yet so intricate and complex?’ Throughout freshman year, I was also inspired by how passionate my science teachers and the upperclassmen were about STEM. From then on, I knew I wanted to go into STEM, specifically, the ophthalmology field.” 

Alena has been interested in ophthalmology since her freshman year. The summer before junior year, she received an online summer research program for girls in STEM and was set to work with a postdoctoral guide. Alena inquired about summer opportunities to amplify her research. She then received the opportunity to research with her instructor in Boston. I had the chance to ask Alena for a brief overview of ophthalmology, to which she replied, “Ophthalmology is a subspecialty in medicine focused on diagnosing eye diseases and involving eye surgeries, such as Lasik. My research specifically focused on diseases and metabolic pathways of the retina and macula, both of which are located in the back of the eye. I primarily investigated these topics through culturing cells, performing cell-based assays (experiments), and reviewing previous literature.” 

Some advice from Alena for other high schoolers is, “Networking is key…It’s beneficial not just for careers in medicine but for every career. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to people in your desired field, and make sure to keep those connections. I would also advise other students to try anything they want to do without feeling limited by their intelligence or qualifications.” Here at ACP, students challenge themselves to reach their full potential. Thank you, Alena, for being such a great role model and inspiration for everyone at ACP! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. 

Author: María Tapia, Staff Writer

More to Discover