Author Archives: Sydney Warner


NIH STEP-UP Program Undergraduate Application

  • The various events or experiences that have helped shape your desire to learn more about biomedical, clinical, social or behavioral research
  • Your short and/or long-term academic and career goals
  • How a research experience through STEP-UP will positively influence your career development

The STEP-UP program is an opportunity to make my thoughts, ideas, and goals a reality. I would like to participate in STEP-UP because this program will not only expand my research horizons, but give me the skills I need as I continue my college career.

From a young age, I had to maneuver around my allergies and sensitivities. Random irritants would bother my skin, normal products caused  inflammation, and I was always skeptical about the food I ate because I was afraid I would spontaneously react. It was a hectic way of living, so my mom finally decided to take me to the allergist. After taking the allergy test and the results revealed an extensive list of allergies, my suspicions were confirmed. While it was not the most enjoyable visit to be poked and prodded with needles just for them to tell me what I seemingly already knew, this was not the only realization I had at the doctor’s office that day.

  Watching my doctor calmly interact with me as a nervous patient while informing my mom what the results revealed and direct his employees simultaneously fascinated me. I’d heard of doctors owning a practice before, but it never appealed to me as much as it did when I was in the patient room. As soon as I got home, I hopped on my computer and began doing some research on immunology. It was both interesting yet alarming to read about the body’s processes and disorders. It was even more surprising to find out that I am one of the millions of kids in my generation developing a multitude of intolerances and allergies. The more I read, the more I discovered the correlations between agricultural and environmental sciences with immunology and the state of youth today. The foods we eat directly affect our body’s overall health, whether that be for the good or bad. 

With my newfound interest, I decided I would like to study environmental sciences and Spanish throughout my undergraduate years while also on the pre-med track. My dream is to become an immunologist and eventually have my own practice. As an established doctor, I will then create an environmentally sustainable organization that will focus on educating people about our role on the planet and what we need to do to maintain our communities. I want to launch an organization promoting environmental conservation because our earth is just as important as the people in it. It is our job to take care of our environment we live in because we will have no future without it. I have always had an interest in conservation, but it quickly became a passion after my trip to Costa Rica two years ago. Costa Rica is one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world and while I was there, I saw all of the ways that other countries could implement solutions to our environmental issues in daily life. For example, Costa Rica’s sanitation system is eons ahead of ours because they have minimal waste and recycling centers are common. They utilize hydroelectricity for a lot of the island and actively work to preserve their wildlife. Just as people in Costa Rica advocated for environmental change, people need to be the catalyst that creates these opportunities in America. I would like to be one of those people. Environmental science studies encompass many of world issues today, such as the agricultural industry, pollutants, allergies, and disorders that younger generations carry in abundance. These topics are so heated that a lot of research is dedicated to finding alternatives and solutions to these issues. While I may or may not be researching one of these topics specifically, getting the chance to research at an institution during my college years would be an invaluable experience.  

As a first-year at Emory University, my studies will cultivate my enthusiasm for the people of this world and the success I know I can achieve. My interest in bodily systems, specifically the immune system, as well as environmental protection is unwavering. I chose my career path in an effort to leave the world a healthier and happier place for those who come after me. 

Because of my career choice, research is guaranteed for the rest of my life. This hands-on, professional experience is exactly what I need as I continue to transition into a different period of life. NIDDK’s goal of maintaining a strong foundation of students studying diseases and conditions aligns with my own agenda as a future doctor and entrepreneur. 

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The program I intend to participate in this summer!

Immersive Qualities

Question: How Does Study Abroad Affect the Academic Trajectory of a Foreign Language/Culture Student?

Immersive Qualities

For a foreign language and culture student, studying abroad is the ultimate dream. I know it has been a dream of mine since middle school to travel to another country and experience their customs, language, and culture. The benefits of such an experience are innumerable, but a few of the most pertinent ones are career opportunity, immersion, and perspective.

Studying abroad allows a student to finally (literally) see what they’ve been studying in classrooms for so long. This realization brings on a question that will cross every student’s mind, at least once during their stay: “Could I actually live here?” Depending on the study abroad program, the option to intern, get a job, or research is a very real possibility. These opportunities are usually gratifying in the sense that the student can determine if what they’re doing in this new environment is applicable to their home country, or if it is worth it to come back and stay. Having that opportunity at such a young age will give a student plenty of insight into their path with their foreign language and culture. 

Moreover, if anyone has looked up “how to learn a language,” one of the most popular suggestions is always to study abroad.  Immersion is proven to be successful in developing a student’s understanding of a language. Not only do they get to practice the language of that country, but they will also become familiar with colloquial language, which is helpful for the future and speaking to natives. This comprehensive experience gives a student a vision of the rest of their academic career and how they can expand and utilize their newfound knowledge.

The combination of these two experiences as well as several others will change a student’s perspective for life. While they are there, they will think and appreciate every meal, trip, and lesson they learn. When they go home, they will apply every skill they developed there and remember where it came from fondly. Perspective sparks everything great in the world – new ideas, zeal, and tenacity come with becoming globally competent. Academically, this is beneficial for the student and their teachers; they approach their assignments with more appreciation and excitement. 

As a first year at Emory, I have not had the opportunity to study abroad, but I traveled to Costa Rica for a week a couple of years ago. It was a Girl Scouts trip where we were able to do a cultural exchange with local teenagers in the area we were in. This trip meant a lot to me – I’d been wanting to practice my Spanish for so long, and I wanted to take in as much of the Costa Rican culture as possible. Even though my time there was short, my Spanish improved and I fell in love with the country… I can only imagine this experience would be magnified over a longer period. 

All things considered, a study abroad experience can ignite a new passion or give a student the push they’ve needed to follow that passion. No one leaves a study abroad experience the same because it changes a student personally and academically. Careers that a student may not have considered could become an option, having a more complete understanding of a language can propel a student to use it in ways they never imagined, and the way it impacts them will alter their mindset forever. A foreign language and culture student’s academic trajectory will be enlightened by the study abroad experience.

My friend and I posing with two girls at a school in Costa Rica – it changed my life!



Hello everyone! My name is Sydney Warner and I am a first-year here at Emory. I plan on majoring in Environmental Sciences and Spanish (pre-med). I love language and culture and hope to include more of it in my time at Emory. I have been studying Spanish for five years and plan to be fluent by the end of my college career. I also plan to learn Italian, Portuguese, French, ASL, and Arabic. Global competency is very important and it is something I feel everyone needs to be exposed to at some point in their lives. I look forward to seeing how this cohort approaches global themes and am glad to be a part of it!


Cultural Education at a Liberal Arts Institution

“Why is the study of foreign languages and cultures essential to a liberal arts education?”

The study of foreign language and culture is forever linked with liberal arts education, in my eyes. In fact, I was a little confused when thinking about how to approach this question. The goal of a liberal arts education is to verse its students in several forms of study, so it seems logical that foreign language and culture is a part of this goal. The fact that people are challenging the connection of cultural education to the liberal arts education is extremely perplexing. Cultural education allows people to step outside of themselves and learn to appreciate different approaches to life. This skill is essential to personal development, and cultural education is one of the most effective ways in cultivating it. 

In the public school system, especially K-12, we see a decline in liberal arts education overall, not to mention the removal of cultural classes in schools. The belief that students who focus more on their sciences and maths without developing their own points of view and becoming aware of the world around them is detrimental to our youth’s overall development. 

Foreign language and culture specifically need to be emphasized in liberal arts institutions and others because while it is great for personal development, it also prepares students for the global workplace we live in. It will only get more diverse from here, and in order to be prepared for that, cultural education is of the essence. It allows students to broaden their horizons and immerse themselves in the lives of those around them. Some people question the importance of this experience, but it can be a humbling experience for many. Knowing that the way you live, speak, and eat are not the only ways nor the best ways is something that seems to be lacking in Western cultures. Even if fluency in another language is not the goal of every student, exposing themselves to other languages and the cultures that speak them is still valuable. Instead of viewing these things with biases or misjudgments, a person can see that culture or language for what it is – unique and important in its own way. 

During my time learning Spanish and Hispanic culture, I know first-hand the newfound knowledge and appreciation that comes with themes of global competency. I have seen how similar, yet different other countries are and how that contradictory statement is what makes the world so interesting. Learning Spanish has taught me to be more flexible, think quickly, and open-minded. While some of these traits can be developed by other means, foreign language and culture will ingrain these concepts so deeply into a person that they do not even realize how much they’ve changed.

Foreign language and culture in the liberal arts education is a necessity. It pushes the narrative that liberal arts is already encouraging: learn to be a balanced person by experiencing each aspect of your realm of study, and use that to be creative. Removing oneself from what they are comfortable with, such as their native language or customs, is an encounter every student should have, liberal arts or not.








A Costa Rican man in Sarchí, Costa Rica creating a traditional painting.