Skip to main content
Sign In

Student Stories

Learn about past student experiences


Student Fellowships Funded by Local Businessman​

Two students on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus this summer had a lot in common.
Monica Brown and Madison Weber wrapped up work in the Cancer Research Summer Fellowship Program. Both also are college undergraduates who focused on colon cancer research. Both of their fellowships also were funded by a man who lost his father to colon cancer years ago. 

The Cancer Research Summer Fellowship Program is sponsored by the University of Colorado Cancer Center. The program gives dozens of college undergraduates and more advanced high school students the opportunity to spend ten weeks conducting cancer research. 

Brown and Weber worked in the lab of Todd Pitts, PhD, and John Tentler, PhD, the associate director for education at CU Cancer Center, director of the summer fellowship program, and associate professor in the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Division of Medical Oncology. Pitts and Tentler specialize- in developmental therapeutics for gastrointestinal cancers Their lab’s focus is pre-clinical studies of novel drugs for the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer, utilizing both cell culture and mouse models. Pitts and Tentler’s pre-clinical work is the basis of treatment options for patients with advanced GI cancers in the CU Cancer Center Phase I Clinical Trials Program.

Testimonial - Kenny Felsenstein

My experience in the Colorado summer program sparked my ongoing interest in drug development and related disciplines and has really shaped my ultimate career trajectory in becoming a physician scientist. Through the journal clubs, semi-weekly lecture series, and end of program poster session where I presented my work, I gained a window into many areas of cancer biology and an up to date overview of the latest therapeutic strategies being tested. The program was an outstanding opportunity for me to learn the methodologies behind intelligent scientific inquiry, and being on the Anschutz Medical Campus where basic and translational research are integrated with patient care, I was able to really experience the full spectrum of biomedicine, from the bench to the clinic. I am very grateful to have been a fellow! 

Kenny is currently in medical school at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. 


Two summer fellows awarded St. Baldrick's funding

Ethan_StBaldricks_blog.jpgSean Rinella and Ethan Krauspe’s paths to cancer research are completely different.
One is a childhood leukemia survivor who spent much of his life surrounded by pediatric oncologists. The other is a rock climber who changed college majors and schools twice before settling on biochemistry.
Despite separate paths, both Rinella and Krauspe applied to the Cancer Research Summer Fellowship at the University of Colorado Cancer Center with the hope of gaining hands-on experience in cancer research. Both were accepted to the fellowship and subsequently selected to receive funding from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Every year, St. Baldrick’s funds research grants at institutions around the world. One of these grants provides funds for students to work in pediatric oncology research labs, with the hope that the experience will lead to future careers in cancer research. 

Continue reading in Colorado Cancer Blogs

Katharina Wyns: A Brush with Brain Cancer Sparks Interest

Katharina_Wyns-25.jpgKatharina Wyns completed her undergraduate education at Baylor University with a major in biochemistry and is currently a student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She became interested in brain cancer when her grandpa was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of malignant brain tumor, two and half years ago.

“I want to be involved in the care my grandpa is receiving,” says Wyns. Wyns has not yet decided on a medical specialty but has a strong interest in oncology. “Oncology is a very open field and we still have a lot to learn,” she says. “I see this as an opportunity to be a pioneer in the field.”

Wyns will be researching pediatric brain cancer under Nicholas Foreman, MD, CU Cancer Center investigator and director of pediatric neuro-oncology at Children’s Hospital Colorado.  Wyns wanted to be involved in Foreman’s lab due to the translational nature of the work – seeing treatments move from the bench to the bedside. 

Continue reading in Colorado Cancer Blogs

Surviving cancer twice brings student fellow full circle

In her 30 years of life Nicole Vincelette has survived cancer, not once but twice, worked the stables at Yosemite National Park, fought wildfires, studied art, moved countless times between western states and hitchhiked through Alaska. While not your conventional career path, Nicole’s journey to becoming a cancer researcher is not without adventure, inquisitiveness and determination.

“Having a lot of life experience has given me the tools in my belt necessaryNicole Vincelette, CU Cancer Center student fellow to get me to where I am today,” says Nicole.

A Giant Loop

At the age of five, when most kids were learning to tie their shoes and ride their bikes, Nicole was defeating Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

By 17, Nicole and her family had moved from Idaho to New Mexico to Wyoming. Nicole’s father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, breaking her family apart and starting what she refers to as the “giant loop”–a journey to finding “homes” in Utah, California, Montana, and Alaska.

Though she was living a life of adventure, something was missing.

Continue reading in Colorado Cancer Blogs

Student fellow devotes three summers to lung cancer research

Before the age of two, Sarah Haeger endured two lifesaving heart surgeries at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Through annual health exams and a grandfather who spent his career as an OB/GYN, she understood the role of healthcare at an early age.

“Though I was so little when I had the surgeries, I had to have checkups every year at Children’s,” Sarah says. “I have grown to understand that those doctors saved my life, and I think it would be pretty neat to help someone out in the same way.”

The path to discovering how she would help others was easy.

By the time Sarah started college at the University of Colorado Boulder, she was fascinated with science and medicine but wanted to find a way to gain more hands-on lab experience.  As a sophomore, majoring in chemical and biological engineering, she applied to the Cancer Research Summer Fellowship at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

The application process requires students to select three preceptors and projects that are of interest to them. Sarah was interested in the lung cancer research Steve Malkoski, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and member of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, was doing.

“Working with Steve was my top choice,” Sarah says. “Though he originally wanted a junior for his project, I decided to send him an e-mail outlining all the college courses I had completed and asked him if I could apply to his project. He agreed even though I had only completed two years of college.”

Update: Sarah Haeger is currently an MD, PhD candidate at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus.

Continue reading in Colorado Cancer Blogs