How One Student Went from GBCC to UNH
Sometimes it just takes a nudge, a suggestion, a gentle push in one direction for a person to find their way. For Jackie Lemaire, it was an invitation.
Lemaire took a couple of years off from school after graduating from Spaulding High in Rochester. She enrolled at Great Bay Community College with the intention of taking general education courses while figuring out what path she wanted to take.
That’s when Deb Audino and Leslie Barber came along.
Audino is the co-program coordinator and a professor of biotechnology at Great Bay. Barber is a professor of biological sciences. They had Lemaire in their classes and saw something in her. They invited Lemaire to join the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence program (NH-INBRE) at Great Bay. That’s all it took.
“I went to Great Bay just to get my feet wet and I fell in love with science,” Lemaire said.
“Jackie Lemaire is such a good example of what community colleges can do for bright, motivated students,” Barber said. “Relatively quickly, she discovered a talent for sciences: something that our science faculty also noticed. We encouraged her to pursue a major in the area of biological science, and to consider joining one of our research projects. Was she certain that she wanted to pursue a career in biological research? No, but the opportunities were intriguing enough for her to see where they would take her.”
For Lemaire, those opportunities led to her transferring to the University of New Hampshire after she earned her Associate in Science in Biotechnology from Great Bay. She continues to follow her passion for research and is considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree in genetics at UNH.
“Research keeps your brain active,” Lemaire said. “Everything you learn in class, you can apply through research and it makes sense.”
The NH-INBRE program has been at Great Bay for five years and Barber said 25 students have been part of the program during that time, helping achieve the program’s goal of exposing students to research work early in their post-secondary careers.
NH-INBRE is funded by the National Institutes of Health with the intent of developing a network of biomedical research training in New Hampshire. The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and UNH are the lead institutions, with Great Bay and River Valley of the CCSNH among eight partner institutions.
Three CCSNH students have been invited to spend a summer doing research at Dartmouth through the ISURF program and one of them, Brittney Graham from River Valley, is now a PhD student at Dartmouth.
Lemaire’s research at Great Bay was a collaborative effort with graduate students at New England College and helped land her a grant through the federally-funded Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to help with her tuition at UNH.
“I have an advantage over other undergraduates because of my research at Great Bay Community College,” Lemaire said.
She is currently doing an EPSCoR internship under Dr. Stephen Jones at UNH, testing oysters in Great Bay for the vibrio bacteria. Research students from GBCC are assisting in the study and Lemaire is coordinating their work.
“It’s bringing things full circle,” Lemaire said.