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Meet Priszeia Puckett

Some find their calling late in life. Others know right away. For MiraCosta College student Priszeia Puckett, it was clear from the earliest of days. 

Ever since Priszeia was young, she was experimenting with plants and animals. Growing up, Priszeia would regularly spend her free time crushing up leaves in her backyard to make pretend medicines. As she got older, her love for science only deepened. 

“I remember one day in high school we were required to watch this documentary about stem cell research,” recalled Priszeia. “Most of my classmates fell asleep right away, but I was so fascinated.” 

Continued Priszeia, “I couldn’t get enough. Then when we got to touch a microscope for the first time, I was hooked. The first time I got to watch cells move under a microscope, I knew.” 

That was the moment for Priszeia. She knew right then and there that she was destined to become a scientist. 

Yet her journey to science hit a minor speed bump when her family decided to move to the U.S. At the time, she was one year away from high school graduation. However, because the education systems in the Philippines and the U.S. didn’t match perfectly, it was hard for Priszeia to find a high school that would accept her. In a way, she was stuck in the middle. 

Her credits in the Philippines were too advanced to attend high school in the U.S. but in order to take the next step at college, she needed a high school certificate from the U.S.

Fortunately, that’s when she learned about MiraCosta College. 

“I stumbled upon MiraCosta College because my uncle was taking classes there at the time,” recalled Priszeia. “Given my circumstances, it was the perfect option. I could enroll in their adult high school program and take college courses while finishing my high school credits.” 

Priszeia immediately set her sights on the science offerings on campus. One day, while doing a group project with her classmates in Chemistry 150, Priszeia noticed one of her peers was looking at cell cultures for another class. Recognizing what he was doing, and holding back her excitement, Priszeia asked him what program it was for. When she learned it was the Biomanufacturing Program at MiraCosta College, Priszeia had that same feeling she once did when watching cells under a microscope in high school. 

Soon after, Priszeia enrolled in the Biomanufacturing Program and began taking advantage of every opportunity available, including the internship connections at MiraCosta College. 

“The staff at MiraCosta College are constantly sharing new internship opportunities and helping us apply,” shared Priszeia. “One day I saw a notice about the OpenBiopharma Research and Training Institute and decided to go for it.”

With support from her professors, Priszeia got the role and soon found herself conducting exosome research focusing on quality control sterility testing for stem cells. Not only that, the internship was a paid role that even supported Priszeia’s growth by giving her a stipend to travel to industry conferences. 

“It was such an enriching experience,” said Priszeia. “We see it all the time when we work with students from other schools. MiraCosta College gives us so much hands-on experience that we are often the best prepared in the room. Whether it is the courses we take or the internships, MiraCosta College is designed to set students up for success in the industry.” 

Today, as Priszeia prepares to finish her degree, she can’t help but look back on where it all began. From experimenting in her backyard as a kid, to now working in some of the most advanced biotech labs in the world, Priszeia is living her dream. 

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