Indiana University Kokomo senior Pamela Plain’s passion for breast cancer research has earned her the college/university Intern of the Year award from Indiana INTERNnet.
Plain, a health sciences major from Tipton, was one of two students who received this award on Feb. 5, chosen from 41 nominees statewide. She earned the recognition for organizing a breast tissue donation event in Kenya while interning at the Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center.
She was excited to be nominated and thrilled to win.
“I just thought it was an honor to be nominated, because everyone there had done such amazing internships,” said Plain, 50, in a press release. “When I won, I couldn’t believe it.”
Plain learned about the KTB — the only repository for healthy breast tissue in the world — when she volunteered as part of a civic engagement and breast cancer class with Jessica Henderson, assistant professor of health sciences. Plain and six of her classmates donated healthy breast tissue, which researchers use as they seek a cure for breast cancer.
During her time at the center, Plain talked to Jill Henry, chief operating officer of the KTB, about the Kenya project, offering her skills in international shipping to facilitate getting the needed supplies to Africa. KTB’s goal is to collect breast tissue from women all over the world. They targeted Kenya because a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer is common there.
“I was a customs expert before I went back to school,” Plain said. “I realized they didn’t have a grasp on the shipping process, and this was a way I could make a difference. I started at the very beginning of the process and did everything from packing the boxes, loading the container and doing all the customs paperwork to send the shipment to Kenya. Even after my internship was over, I followed through on a daily basis and made sure our shipment cleared customs.”