Inspiring Young Minds to Pursue Research

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, BUILD EXITO is a three-year program at Portland State University (PSU) designed to train undergraduate students in health science research. This program identifies underrepresented students early in their college careers and engages them in finding solutions to today’s major health problems. OHSU serves as a research-intensive partner, providing crucial support, guidance and expertise for EXITO scholars.

Currently, there is one EXITO scholar at the Layton Center, Remonda Hanna. She shares insights about her experience.

Remonda Hanna, EXITO scholar
Michael AuYeung, Ph.D., Remonda’s mentor

As a Data Science major at PSU, I’ve taken many math, statistics and programming courses without actually knowing what a data scientist does. In 2021, I joined the BUILD EXITO program because I knew it would give me a better understanding of how to apply the degree I’m working towards. I’ll be graduating from PSU in June. 2023 is my last year as an EXITO scholar.

I’ve always been curious about how different parts of the brain work, especially when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease. When I got the opportunity to join a lab at ORCATECH (Oregon Center for Aging & Technology), I immediately accepted. It was something I couldn’t pass up. At ORCATECH, I worked with my mentor Michael AuYeung, Ph.D., and helped him aggregate data from two of his research projects, the MODERATE (Monitoring Dementia-Related Agitation Using Technology Evaluation) study and the ADA (Monitoring Apathy, Depression and Anxiety Using Technology Evaluation) study.

During my time at ORCATECH I improved my programming skills while working with real life data and learned how to properly display my findings. After graduating, I’ll search for an internship in the data science field that’ll help me grow in my career. EXITO has many perks but what I’ve enjoyed the most is the continuous support from everyone in the program. Whatever I needed help with, whether it was personal or school or research related, EXITO was always there.