A Year in the Fulbright Life: Mirna’s Story

For the next year, Fulbright MENA will be showcasing a handful of students as they study in the United States with their new series, A Year in the Fulbright Life. Each month, spotlighted students will share an update as they continue on their Fulbright journey.

August 2017

This summer, Fulbrighter Mirna had the chance to travel to Las Vegas, Hollywood and the Grand Canyon.

Two Fulbrighters at the Grand Canyon

Mirna traveled with another Fulbrighter from Egpyt who she met during her Pre-Academic program in Summer 2016.

Mirna in Las Vegas

“Having the chance to travel and discover places you used to only see in movies is just mind blowing. But nothing is better than having a Fulbrighter to be your travel buddy.”

Mirna in front of the Hollywood sign in California

Mirna says that after her travels, she’s ready for school to start. Good luck as you begin classes!

September 2017

My lab mates and I had the chance to go out bowling. It is really important to be in a welcoming environment in your lab. I am blessed to have such supporting friends who make my journey unforgettable.

We also had the chance to do an Escape Room! We got out!

October 2017

Recently I went to the “Celebrate Science Indiana” event, one of my favorite events I’ve ever attended in the United States. At a forensic lab at Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis my lab mates and I volunteered to help Hoosier (people from Indiana) kids get engaged in STEM Science (a “Hoosier” is a native or resident of the U.S. state of Indiana). This fair encourages young people to get involved in in science, technology, and engineering. Our goal was to introduce them to forensic science, specifically. We had a mock crime scene named “Who Stole Teddy?” The kids had to help in the investigation and try to interpret exhibits such as hair, fingerprints, and DNA. The information collected helped them identify the suspect. In addition, we gave their parents a child ID kit to store photo, fingerprints, and DNA. Hopefully a few of the young people we talked with are now interested in science!

Mirna and her lab-mates at the Celebrate Science Indiana event

November 2017

Yesterday, the Office of International Affairs at IUPUI hosted a Fulbright reception. We got the chance to meet with Fulbright alumni. Dr. Didier Gondola the chair of the History Department at IUPUI, was the guest speaker. He shared his experience with us and talked about how Fulbright was a stepping-stone in his professional life. I was thrilled by the achievements and the stories he had.

“This month I went on a field trip to the Indiana Supreme Court with my classmates in the Law & Forensics course. The definition of forensics is the application of science to serve criminal justice. Thus, as a forensics student, it is very important to learn about the legal issues in forensics because we will be testifying in court as expert witnesses. Our professor, who is also a judge in the court of Appeals in Indiana, organized a visit to the Supreme Court where we got the chance to attend a few trials and learn more about the legislative system.”

December 2017

“This season is full of joy and happiness. Nothing is better than connecting with your lab mates to enjoy some delicious food and special gifts. We decided to have a Secret Santa (where each participant gives a gift secretly to another person) and Christmas lunch before the semester ended. I am so lucky to have the best lab mates and team of scientists.”

January 2018

Part of my research is studying the STR allele frequencies [“1] in the Lebanese population, and recently I got the chance to do that in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Two weeks ago, I visited the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, MD to work closely with the Applied Genetics Group. I was introduced to the work they do, and I also got the chance to present my research on Pigmentation Prediction to them.

I also was lucky to meet Dr. John M. Butler, the leading expert on forensic DNA profiling. He has written several textbooks on forensic DNA typing. He also received many awards for serving the forensic community. He is a role model for me and I plan to be like him in the future.

February 2018

When you live in Indiana, and you get stuck for a weekend in your apartment because of the snow, you have to be creative. I made a snowman on my balcony representing the School of Science at Indian University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

March 2018

I was happy to participate in the Re-Entry Workshop, which is where AMIDEAST brings all of the Fulbright MENA students about to return home to Washington D.C. for three days to talk about reverse culture shock. It was a good chance to get connected with my fellow Fulbrighters and it was also good preparation before I return back home. I was also one of the finalists in the photo contest, which I’m very proud of.

Mirna with the photo contest entries

April 2018

This month, I was honored to give a talk about my research entitled “Eye, Hair and Skin Pigmentation Prediction of a Lebanese Population at the Emirates International Forensic Conference and Exhibition in Dubai. I got the opportunity to meet with experts and leaders in the forensic field from all over the world. It was also a great opportunity to meet with the Lebanese delegation representing the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese Internal Security Forces.

May 2018

I was so happy that my parents made it to my graduation. I also was honored to hold the program flag at the commencement.

Mirna is from Lebanon and is a second-year Master’s student at Indiana University-Purdue in Indianapolis. She is studying Forensic Sciences.

Follow updates from Mirna and other Fulbright students on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Check back here every month for more updates on the blog and Medium Series to see what Mirna does this year!

Read more Fulbright stories here.