Tears Turn to Success for Graduate Student: Determination Brings NIH Fellowship

Jennie ThiesSitting in her adviser’s office with tears running down her face, Jennie Thies was unsure if she could stick with graduate school.

It was the start of her third year, and she was facing her qualifying exam to transition into candidacy for the doctorate program. She was balancing her responsibilities in the classroom and lab.

Dr. Kim Caldwell, professor of biological sciences and Thies’ adviser, comforted and encouraged. Resilient, Thies stayed the course.

She passed the exam and continued in her research in the Caldwell lab. Later that year, she was recognized for outstanding teaching by a graduate student by the department of biological sciences.

Now, she is starting her fourth year with more confidence after winning a highly competitive national grant. Thies was recently awarded an NIH Diversity Research Supplement, a two-year pre-doctoral fellowship that covers stipend, tuition and health care while supporting her research. The program supports ongoing dissertation research training for individuals from under-represented groups.

“I look back and see that I’ve come so far these past three years, and I’m incredibly proud of myself,” Thies said. “It’s so hard to see when you’re in the moment.  “The payoff isn’t always immediate, but, at the end, it will all be worth it.”

Learn more about Jennie’s journey by reading the full article on the UA news site.