Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities National Internship Program (HACU)

MCB Welcomes Summer Intern Jamie Helberg

Each year the National Science Foundation hosts summer interns from across the United States. This summer, the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences staff is excited to welcome Jamie Helberg. Read below to learn more about Jamie and the project she’s undertaking for MCB.

Welcome Jamie Helberg

I grew up in Los Angeles, California and am the proud daughter of Cuban and Colombian immigrants. This fall, I will be entering my senior year at Pitzer College. Pitzer is a member of the Claremont Colleges-a unique consortium of five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions. I am majoring in Environmental Analysis with a Spanish minor. Following my bachelor’s degree, I aspire to attend graduate school to study agriculture and food security. This summer, I will be focusing on whether resilience and productivity of applicants to MCB awards correlates with demographics by evaluating resubmission rates. Overall, I hope to consolidate this data in a manner that coherently recognizes how NSF funding can lead to groundbreaking research while simultaneously diversifying our nation’s scientific discoverers. 


Each year the National Science Foundation hosts summer interns from across the United States. This summer, the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) is excited to welcome two interns. Throughout the summer we will share updates about their projects. Read below to learn more about these dynamic individuals.


My name is Julie Dominguez. I am from Houston, Texas. I completed my bachelor’s in Chemistry from Prairie View A&M University and my master’s degree in biomedical sciences from Texas Tech Health Science Center El Paso. Some of my hobbies include reading books, traveling, and trying new foods (mainly desserts).

I am thrilled to be here! I am able to participate in the NSF 2016 Summer Scholars Internship Program due to my selection by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities National Internship Program (HACU). HACU is a nonprofit organization based in San Antonio, Texas with regional offices in Washington D.C. and Sacramento, California. The HACU program is competitive. Only approximately one quarter of all applicants are selected as spring, summer, or fall interns, and I am blessed to be part of an elite group of 14 NSF HACU interns. To apply, one must submit an application, resume, essays, recommendation letters, and other required documents. HACU’s mission to promote the development of member colleges and universities, increase opportunities for Hispanics in post-secondary schools, and to increase federal employment opportunities for minorities and non-minorities is important to me since statistics have shown a disparity in opportunity and educational advancement for Hispanics. These statistics were eye opening to me, and I am thankful that NSF works with HACU to expose students to strive for more and to make post-graduate opportunities available.

This summer, I will be analyzing the impact and productivity of Principal Investigators through their NSF-funded research. At this point in my life, I am uncertain of my future plans. All I know is that I enjoy learning about science. I would like to pursue a doctoral degree in the near future, but I am not sure which avenue I should take. I’ve always wanted to work for the government, and I am happy to be able to experience that career option with this internship. I am also hoping that this opportunity helps me narrow down my future career paths.

This experience will also show me how diversity plays a role at the NSF. It will allow me to network with individuals from different backgrounds and expertise. This internship will help me learn about new and existing opportunities for Latina women in STEM fields. I am confident that this experience will change my life, and will provide the necessary tools to help others and to pay it forward by opening many doors for me.


My name is Keshanti Tidwell. I am from Houston, Texas and am a rising junior at Jarvis Christian College, a small Historically Black College and University in Hawkins, Texas. I am a Biology major with a minor in Chemistry and aspire to pursue my PhD in Biochemistry. I was able to participate in this internship through the Quality Education for Minorities Network (QEM), a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, dedicated to improving the education of African Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans. QEM seeks to work with minority and non-minority individuals, organizations, and institutions around the country to help coordinate and energize efforts to improve the education of minorities, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). I was informed about the program by one of my professors and I was able to apply by sending in a 2016 QEM/NSF Summer Science Internship Program application, a personal essay, and other additional information that was required. After I submitted those items it was about a month before I was contacted by the internship coordinator of QEM, notifying me of my acceptance into the NSF Summer Scholars Internship Program.

I am beyond excited to have this opportunity in MCB, and more importantly to be a part of something that is so much larger than myself. Aside from my academic obligations, I work as a Peer Educator to help and encourage other students to be their best selves. I am President of the Delta Phi Chapter of Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society and am also an active member of Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society and National Institute of Science. I also participate in undergraduate research projects in the areas of cancer cell research and environmental science during the school year. In my free time I like to play ukulele, write music, and to cover songs that I enjoy.

This summer, I will be examining proposed broader impacts activities to determine if and how they differ in scope and strength between and within MCB. During my time here, I hope to gain more knowledge about MCB and everything that it entails. I hope to walk away from this internship with greater confidence, knowing that I was among intellectuals and all-around great people. It is one of my goals to leave this place, not as the same person that I came, but as someone who is more confident in herself, her abilities, her career path, and the difference that she can make in this world.