Letter to the Editor from Elizabeth Inkellis in the Gazette

May 7, 2008

I was shocked and disappointed to learn recently that steep budget cuts threaten the integrity of the Montgomery Blair Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet.

I graduated from the program in 2003 and can proudly say that I could not have received a better education anywhere else. The program provided many opportunities for collaborative work, exposed me to the latest technology, and allowed me to take advanced science classes such as genetics and cell physiology. The quality of teaching that I received in both my basic and advanced magnet classes compared favorably to the teaching I received in college.

One of the cornerstones of the magnet education is the Senior Research Project, a multidisciplinary scientific research project that is carried out over the course of junior and senior years. For my project, I worked with Dr. McDonald Horne at the National Institutes of Health and developed a model of a catheter in a vein in order to examine the diffusion rate of different anticoagulants out of the catheter tip.

In 2004, an article based on my research was published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer. Dr. Horne strongly encouraged me to apply to his alma mater, Princeton University.

At my Princeton interview, my alumni interviewer, a NIST scientist who was familiar with the impressive magnet students who had come through his lab, became fascinated with my research. I strongly suspect that my Senior Research Project was a major factor in my admission to Princeton University.

My magnet Senior Research Project was great preparation for my Princeton senior thesis, for which I relied heavily on the knowledge gained in the genetics class in 11th grade. I am now a first-year medical student at Columbia University, where I have continued to build on my love of research that began so many years ago at Blair.

The proposed budget cuts have threatened the very things that make the magnet program such a fabulous educational experience the college-level classes, the careful coordination of interdisciplinary projects, and the individualized attention from wonderful educators.

For the benefit of those behind my classmates and me, please retain funding for Montgomery County’s educational crown jewel.

Elizabeth Inkellis, New York, N.Y.