On August 12, Wistar hosted a ceremony for the Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program graduates of 2020 and 2021 and the Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) Apprenticeship graduates of 2021.
Dr. Dario Altieri, Wistar president and CEO, welcomed students and attendees.
"Having an opportunity to share our passion for science with students and trainees from the Community College is always a privilege and an honor," Dr. Altieri said. "We hope the tools and knowledge you’ve been exposed to are going to stay with you for a long time and will work as a key to unlock a career in the life sciences."
Dr. Bill Wunner, director of Academic Affairs, Outreach Education and Technology Training, founded the BTT Program at Wistar.
"I have had a long establishment with this training opportunity and value it tremendously from the point of view of seeing people become successful," he said.
He addressed the trainees and urged them to think about their plans for the future: What success looks like to them, what they want to be, and what knowledge and tools they need to get there.
"To turn your aspirations into reality, you need a team of trusted advisors — be sure that one of those mentors is going to be your champion in your next steps," he said. "And chase the goal of continuously learning."
Dr. Kristy Shuda McGuire introduced three graduates, one from each class, who gave inspiring speeches about their experience in the Programs, their aspirations after graduating and the opportunities that opened up for them through this training experience.
She explained how the class of 2021 was supposed to start the BTT Program in May of 2020, when the pandemic hit. Wistar felt strongly about keeping that promise and made sure the trainees finished the Program by August 2021. This prompted development of an accelerated version of the BTT Program, which included updated curriculum and two internships, one in an academic lab and one in an industry lab.
"We are delighted that 100 percent of these 12 students are either continuing their education or taking laboratory positions or both."
Keynote speaker Calvin R. Snowden, Jr., managing partner at CBS BioPharma, took the audience through his career journey in the life sciences to highlight the importance of taking advantage of new opportunities and all chances to advance one’s education and never being afraid to ask questions.
"When you enter a new work environment, tell yourself that you belong and deserve to be there, because you have the skills and ability," said Snowden. "Don’t let anyone take that away from you, and you will be successful."
He also remarked on the power of mentorship and let the graduates know that he, and everyone at Wistar and the collaborating institutions that host BTT and BRT interns, are there for them throughout their future careers.
This event was held in hybrid form and all in-person participants provided proof of vaccination, completed a temperature check, and were socially distant during the event.