Choosing Wisely

Aphnie Germain

Aphnie Germain ’17

As a child, Aphnie Germain ’17 wanted to learn about what makes people tick, both mentally and physically, and she's now exploring health care careers as a biology major and nursing-home volunteer. As Aphnie prepares to study abroad next fall through the Dickinson in England program, she reflects on the values her parents passed along, what it means to be a first-generation college student and the important life lesson she took away from an introductory liberal-arts course.



Clubs and organizations:

Track and field, Pre-Health Society, Latin & Caribbean Club and African American Society.


Samuel G. Rose '58 Scholarship and the National Science Foundation's NSF-STEP scholarship.

Favorite movie:

Remember the Titans.

As a kid, I wanted to be …

… a psychiatrist.

On choosing Dickinson:

I visited Dickinson College with the New Jersey SEEDS college-prep program. At the time, I was so drained from seeing colleges that didn’t capture my heart, and I thought I wouldn’t get anything out of this tour at all. When the van rolled onto campus, I saw the trees and the limestone, and I immediately fell in love. By the time the tour started and I started to get a glimpse of the curriculum and student-professor interaction, I was sold.

Proudest accomplishment:

Being the first in my family to go to college and setting an example for my siblings.

Favorite class and professor:

I have always been able to think, both logically and emotionally, about the long-term consequences of my choices. Philosophy 101, taught by [Visiting Assistant] Professor [of Philosophy] James Haile, affirmed [my beliefs about] why we sometimes make decisions without thinking about the consequences. In this class we learned that every choice is a learning experience that could lead to something great or corrupt, and that the choices we make can [indicate] the type of person we are.

In a perfect world …

… there wouldn’t be any wars [and] everyone would be equal.

Biggest influences:

My mom and my dad. They taught me to never to start something I can’t finish; to never quit; and to never turn my back on my people and values, because at the end of the day, they can be my salvation.

About my research project:

I’m currently researching the characterization of central chemoreceptors in the mouse brainstem with [Associate] Professor [of Biology Mary] Niblock. This student-faculty research compares how the retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN) in both female and male mice responds to different levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), which correlates to whether or not they’re carrying a specific gene, and how much of that gene is present. Since the RTN is thought to regulate breathing in response to changes in blood CO2 and is vital to respiratory drive, especially during sleep, these findings could have clinical relevance to sleep-related breathing disorders that disproportionately affect males, including SIDS and sleep apnea. I’ve always been interested in SIDS and stillbirth, and I hope [findings from] this project will help [identify causes].

Post-Dickinson plans:

I have been volunteering in a nursing home and a holistic clinic. Through these experiences, I see that there is a need to make health care more widely accessible.

I plan to pursue a career in the medical field and ultimately build a medical clinic in Haiti, my home country. For as long as I can remember, it has been my passion to help others who are hurt and cannot help themselves.

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Published May 27, 2015