URI student awarded scholarship from R.I. Blood Center

Posted on
Warwick resident aims to work for Doctors Without Borders

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 2, 2015 – Nikkole Turgeon has long been fascinated with the complexities of the human body, and she has always dreamed of a career as a doctor. The University of Rhode Island senior is well on her way to achieving her goal, but she is taking an atypical path.

Turgeon, a resident of Warwick, is first working to become a certified medical laboratory scientist through a program at URI that includes a yearlong clinical internship at a local hospital. Her academic efforts received a boost this year when she was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the Rhode Island Blood Center that came with a part-time job.

According to Kimberlee Gayheart at the Blood Center, Turgeon received the scholarship because of her interest in blood banking, high grade point average and excellent references. “She also articulated her interest and motivation the strongest during the interview. And she had solid work experience and excellent community involvement,” Gayheart said.

“Nikkole is an outstanding student and an excellent choice for the Blood Center scholarship because of her demonstrated excellence in medical laboratory science,” said Greg Paquette, director of URI’s biotechnology and medical laboratory science programs. “We are grateful to the Rhode Island Blood Center for providing this great opportunity for one of our outstanding medical laboratory science seniors.”

The Blood Center established the annual scholarship in 2012 after having difficulty finding enough certified laboratory scientists to hire. The paid part-time job that comes with the scholarship makes it unique and especially desirable.

Turgeon works 20 hours per week at the Blood Center in Providence, helping the lab technicians perform scientific tests to identify blood groups and test for diseases. She also conducts blood component quality control testing and labeling.

“I’m doing the things that don’t require me to be certified already,” she said. “I get to see a lot of what the techs do and learn from them.”

She is also completing a full-time internship at Rhode Island Hospital that includes attending lectures and conducting laboratory testing.

“We get a little taste of chemistry, microbiology and hematology so we’re prepared for the board exam in June,” Turgeon said.

Eventually she wants to study infectious diseases in developing nations and work with Doctors Without Borders or a similar international medical agency, an interest she developed from a URI class.

“But for now I want to graduate from URI, pass the board exam, go abroad, and then go to med school,” she said. “I’ve got a ways to go. Good thing I love learning.”

Photo by Rhode Island Blood Center