Brianna McGowan stops on a hike to pose with a W&J flag.

A Team Atmosphere Leads Biochemistry Major to Internship Success

Created: April 13, 2020  |  Last Updated: January 14, 2022  |  Category:   |  Tagged: , , , ,

WASHINGTON, PA (April 13, 2020)—As a Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) student, Brianna McGowan has interviewed and shadowed doctors in Nebraska and California to learn about Medicaid through the Magellan Project, worked as an intern in a top national reproductive technologies and infertility treatment research lab, learned about immigration issues and interacted with border security first hand in Arizona through a JayTerm trip, earned early acceptance at Lake Erie College’s School of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and will spend the summer delving deeper into breast cancer research with a W&J alumna.

And she’s only a junior.

The support of a community that’s always ready to build you up—not unlike the support and camaraderie Brianna experiences as a member of W&J’s Women’s Soccer Team—has made Brianna’s ambitions attainable.

“The thing that I like the most is the small class sizes and the student to faculty ratio. That makes the professors always accessible to meet with one-on-one, or makes them accessible to develop a personal relationship with them to get the most of your learning experience,” Brianna said.

Brianna knows that because of this personal relationship, she’s been able to find experiences she may not have discovered on her own. Her professors know her as a person, not just a name on a class roster, and have invested heavily in her success.

Brianna describes Professor of Biology Candy DeBerry, Ph.D. as “the go-to person for finding internships.” With Dr. DeBerry’s help, Brianna found her research internship position at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital last summer and was able to secure funding for her experience through W&J’s Maxwell Internship Award. Funding from W&J’s Merck Internship for Excellence in Science Award will support Brianna’s research this summer.

Professor of Chemistry Mark Harris, Ph.D. is Brianna’s academic advisor and a key member of her W&J team. He’s helped the junior navigate her early acceptance at LECOM and find the right classes to make the most of her W&J education while maintaining an achievable balance between courses semester to semester.

“With the professors, they all have different backgrounds and they push you toward things that make you the best, but you ultimately make your choices for how you spend your time and what you focus on. Sometimes that’s not always what you want to hear, but it’s what you need to hear. You don’t need to ask for help—if you’re struggling, they’ll come to you,” Brianna said.

As an athlete, Brianna’s found support in the classroom for her efforts on the field. With W&J’s large student-athlete population, professors are understanding of athletic commitments and are flexible with student schedules. W&J’s coaches also understand that academics come first and work with students to make sure that they are able to complete their course requirements without added pressure from academic schedules, Brianna added.

Brianna plans to work in the medical field after continuing her studies at LECOM and is currently considering a career in women’s health. But no matter what she pursues, she knows her W&J team will always have her back.

About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.