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NIGMS Logo NIGMS > Minority Programs Update > Spring/Summer 2002 > Profile: Annette Brewster

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This special section profiles former MORE participants who have excelled in their fields. We hope that the profiles will give students an idea of the types of careers available with science degrees and the paths others have taken to achieve those careers.

A Large Dose of Strength and Determination

photo of Annette BrewsterI first became interested in science in high school,” said Annette Brewster, a recent graduate in biochemistry from Hunter College of the City University of New York.

“I was always fascinated with how things worked or functioned,” she added.

Brewster’s fascination for science motivated her to pursue a college degree. In the spring of 1996, she left her public service job and entered LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York to study to become a science teacher. But going to school would be a challenging task for Brewster — she was already a wife and the mother of three children.

One can infer that Brewster’s college experience was different from that of the average undergraduate student. Carrying more responsibilities than most students, Brewster said her formula for success was “hard work, planning, and discipline.” She had to manage helping her children with homework while trying to complete her own assignments, and there were even times she had to take her children to class with her. In addition, there were financial concerns to deal with.

“If I can teach one child a
little of what I have learned,
it would be worth it.”

Despite the many obstacles Brewster faced, she persevered. She eventually entered the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program, which provided her with financial support to continue her education.

“The Bridges program was indeed motivation for me to continue, and it also provided me with a buffer when things got tough,” Brewster said.

The program allowed her to work under the mentorship of Dr. Clara Wu, a professor in the department of natural and applied science at LaGuardia Community College, whom she refers to as her “second mother.” Wu gave Brewster the opportunity to perform hands-on experiments and make presentations of her research to peers and professors.

In addition, the Bridges program, which helps students make the transition from 2-year community colleges to 4-year baccalaureate programs, enabled Brewster to transfer to Hunter College. At Hunter, Brewster also participated in the MBRS program.

Brewster said she loves science because it allows her to learn new things. She enjoys working in a lab, conducting research, and seeing the outcome of her projects. Her enthusiasm for science is what inspired her to continue her education and to eventually become a teacher, so that she can share her knowledge with others.

photo of Annette Brewster adjusting lab equipment.“If I can teach one child a little of what I have learned, it would be worth it,” she explained.

Brewster’s drive and determination come not only from her passion for science, but from the encouragement of her mother, whom she considers her role model.

“My mother grew up in the Caribbean and was a housewife, but she always made us feel that there was nothing we couldn’t do,” she said.

Her mother, like herself, struggled and sacrificed for her children, and emphasized the importance of education to them. This, in turn, motivated Brewster and her siblings and gave them the strength to strive for excellence. Although she faced difficult circumstances, Brewster was able to reach her goal of earning her bachelor’s degree.

If you know an outstanding former MARC, MBRS, or Bridges participant who has excelled professionally and you would like to nominate that person as a future Update profile subject, please let us know. Your suggestions are always welcome.


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