“At first, I was a little cautious because there is a lot of equipment in the lab, but at the same time I was very confident because I just felt like I was in the right place,” Courtney said. “Even when I was little, I could see myself in a laboratory, so it was the realization of my dreams coming true.”
The 11th-grader, who has attended Walker since her freshman year and is the daughter of Kennesaw residents Raymond and Diana Lewis, was invited to work at Clark Atlanta University’s Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development conducting cancer research with graduate and post-doctoral students over the summer.
During her time there, between June 26 and July 29, she performed many experiments alongside her colleagues. One of her favorites, Western blot, studies how proteins in cells can affect cancer treatments.
“We were determining if a cancer treatment was working,” Courtney said. “I really enjoyed that because I loved that someone realized how effective proteins can be studied efficiently in a way that is useful.”
Courtney learned about the opportunity at Clark Atlanta from a postal worker whose child attends the school.
The good news came after she learned it would be too expensive to attend various medical conferences she was interested in.
“I’m just really thankful to God that this happened because I was so discouraged about how things ended up with the medical conference and very devastated,” she said. “I’m just very ecstatic that this opportunity opened up for me.”
This won’t be the end of Courtney’s work with the college.
During her going-away luncheon in late July, she was invited to a second internship next summer and also offered a full scholarship, including tuition, room and board, books, and spending money, in addition to early admission to Clark Atlanta University upon her graduation from high school in 2015.
“That was breathtaking because of all the things that could have resulted from this, that’s the last thing I expected,” Courtney said with a huge smile on her face. “I’m very grateful to Walker because of all the preparation that they give us academically and the confidence to seize an opportunity like this.”
Emily Adams, Walker’s science department chair, taught Courtney in freshman biology and coached her on the school’s Science Olympiad team.
She was thrilled to learn that her former student and team member was selected for such a prestigious program.
“I think it’s phenomenal, but knowing Courtney it doesn’t surprise me at all,” Adams said. “She just has this infectious enthusiasm and positive attitude. No one is going to stand in her way. She’s so delightful and driven.”
Adams also said Courtney’s achievements set quite an example for how they are preparing Walker students, specifically in science.
“I think we want all of our students, no matter what they want to do when they grow up, to have a strong foundation in science here so that they can be informed citizens for themselves and their families in the future,” she said.