Hello, I’m Megan Lavoice, currently a student at Springfield Technical Community College. I have just begun my exciting but challenging journey to become a Registered Nurse. My chosen path was influenced by my daughter’s diagnosis with congenital heart disease. It devastated our family and sparked the dedication in me to make a difference in the world as much as I can.  In addition, at the beginning of this first semester back in college, I received unexpected news, I was expecting again! I am persevering despite my pregnancy demands.

In my Human Anatomy and Physiology class I had the immense opportunity to present our capstone research project at UMASS Undergraduate Research Conference. Here students can present their capstone class research projects, learn from their peers and network. Hence, I have dived not only into gaining knowledge of Human Anatomy and Physiology but also explored larger factors that impact human health. I loved our class projects because it helped me to integrate the concepts, I learnt in class to real-world situations thereby promoting a deeper understanding and retention of information. In a way this helped me to stay in class since I was engaged with my classmates and my professor. This was active learning at its best.

Students gather at the UMass Undergraduate Research Conference (photos by Ed Cohen)

The research project that I chose was Embracing Technology for a Sustainable Food System, since promoting sustainable food practices will contribute to improved overall health outcomes, including reduced risk factors for heart disorders through better nutrition, reduced chemical exposure, and environmental stewardship. Moreover, I found this topic fascinating due to observing the decline in access to quality during the recent pandemic. I dedicated months studying the topic on what we could do to enhance our food quality and quantity for our growing population. I discovered that technology such as precision agriculture, sustainable farming and food processing methods, alternative proteins and leveraging data analytics can optimize supply chains. The main goal is to achieve global food security for optimal health and environmental sustainability. I knew that participation at UMASS URC would involve intense research and preparation. Every week, my team and I met to conduct research using library resources, and we regularly sought guidance from our professor as we crafted our research poster. This process significantly enhanced my scientific reasoning skills. After submitting my research abstract, it underwent several rounds of editing before receiving final approval. On the day of the event, I was surprised to know that there were 32 presenters from STCC! I recognized several of my classmates and we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the renowned Worcester Dining commons. It was an incredible experience stepping into the event, seeing every presenter and staff members scatter their brilliance to all the eager individuals. It truly was a remarkable event bringing together so many brilliant students that are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with others.

This helped me conquer my fear of public speaking and connected me to other people that shared the same interests as me. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with all the remarkable presenters and was impressed with their outstanding projects. I believe that this project helped me to improve my scientific reasoning skills that promote critical thinking to address global challenges. I acquired so much from this conference by enhancing my public speaking skills, displaying my knowledge, and meeting many spectacular people. I thank my Professor Reena Randhir for this opportunity, and I encourage anyone who can attend this transformative experience to fully enjoy the thrilling atmosphere full of passion and perseverance