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GSBS student Rian Morgan-Howell discusses the perks of being a TA

October 26, 2022 By: Emily Rech/MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School

GSBS student Rian Morgan-Howell discusses the perks of being a TA

Rian Morgan-Howell was introduced to biotech from an industry background before applying to the Graduate School. She decided to become a teaching assistant (TA) for the Foundations of Biomedical Research, also known as the Core Course, after taking the course in her first year. Morgan-Howell believes her time as a TA gave her the opportunity to approach biotech from a more academia-based standpoint, giving her a well-rounded understanding of the biotech industry.

How would you describe your teaching assistant (TA) experience at the GSBS?

It was great! I loved the opportunity to get to know the incoming class, as well as the chance to talk to the course coordinators and learn more about how the course comes together and all of the work that goes into it behind the scenes. It’s amazing to see just how many moving pieces there are and how much effort the course coordinators put in to make sure that the incoming students get the absolute most from the experience.

Were you able to hone any skills during this opportunity?

I definitely got to practice my public speaking! Usually before class started, on Fridays especially, I had the opportunity to talk to the students as they all got settled in. This eventually transitioned to me spouting off random “fun facts” and getting to know the first-year students.

Why did you decide to become a TA?

I come from an industry background, and I worked in biotech for a few years before coming to the GSBS. Because of this, I never really got the opportunity to see what a career in the academia side of biotech might look like for me. I had always imagined myself moving back into industry after I graduate, but I wanted the chance to dip my toes into the teaching side of the equation to make sure I was moving in the right direction for my personal career needs.

What would you tell other GSBS students who are on the fence about becoming a TA?

If your schedule has the freedom, I would definitely do it! If you are aware of what you would like to get out of the experience as you enter it, there are plenty of opportunities to grow from being a TA. You just have to be willing to take the initiative to get from it what you want!

Is there anything you would like to tell first-year students starting Core Course?

The course coordinators definitely deserve a lot of credit. Between dealing with stressed out first-year students and juggling the schedules of a million different faculty members, it’s a lot harder than it seemed during my first year. So remember to appreciate them and all of the hard work that they put in to make sure your transition into grad school is as seamless as possible!

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