Working as an intern for Respira Labs for the past summer has been a wonderful journey. Because of a prior project, I did regarding cardiovascular health in the Phillippines, I was already interested in the field. I was pre-med before my internship and only knew about conventional healthcare methods. During that time, I recently became interested in data science and technology and was curious to discover possible intersections between engineering and medicine. Because of these factors, it felt that Respira Labs was truly the perfect company to spend my summer working for.
When I first met Dr. Maria Artunduaga, she impressed me with her confident yet humble nature. I was able to greatly relate with her, being a WOC in STEM myself, but at the same time was also able to learn from her inspiring journey. Working for Respira Labs has taught me so much about different subsections of healthcare that my previous pre-med focused mind could not imagine. I spent the summer applying methods of personal and company consulting and social media marketing to this unique biotechnology startup.
The hard skills I learned from the internship are quite valuable for my resume, but what I learned about life from Dr. Maria Artunduaga is invaluable for my life. She taught me that one can always change their career path and combine fields completely unrelated to health for the greater good. She taught me that women can make space themselves in the healthcare and business field, regardless of the barriers. She taught me dedication, through her constant travels to conferences and work on gathering funding. She taught me how to overcome adversity and believe in myself, and I don’t know many internships that can teach one that.
At surface level, Respira Labs aims to prevent COPD attacks through a digital device. But if you dig deeper, there is a rich story behind the startup. I urge every student to intern at a place that makes them experts on both of these kinds of stories.