NHS senior participates in cancer research
by Celia Shortt
Newnan High School Senior Kenlee Ann “Annie” Hass was one of ten students selected this past summer to participate in the Winship Summer Scholars Research Program at Emory University.
“It was an amazing opportunity,” said Hass.
For six weeks, Hass and the nine other students spent eight hours a day, five days a week, doing real cancer research. Hass wants to go into medicine, and she was able to test drive that type of career through this program.
“My mom has pancreatic cancer, and that is why I want to go into oncology,” she said.
“I wanted to do something of that nature to see if I actually like it - to test the waters,” she added.
Hass’ research area was brain tumors, specifically glioblastoma. In her research, Hass worked with live cancer cells. The main goal was to determine a new technique of using heat to treat the cancer.
Her mentor was Dr. Costas Hadjipanays, a neurosurgeon and Winship brain tumor expert who developed procedures that changed tumor treatment. He even let her scrub in for a brain surgery.
“That was a transforming experience,” she said. “I was amazed that he took the time to explain his research to me and let me observe an actual brain surgery.”
She was not even grossed out by it.
“It was amazing,” she said. “It was fascinating. I loved it.”
“Being in the whole cancer care environment really touched me,” she added. Seeing the patients in the cafeteria and around touched me because the research I was doing could help them.”
Living in Coweta County, Hass had to travel farther to the program than the other students. But she did not let the longer distance stop her from going and used it as a learning experience.
“I rode the bus from Newnan to Midtown, then picked up the shuttle to the Emory Campus,” she said. “Riding the buses, I got the feel of the city and learned other new experiences. It was maturing.”
To other students, facing decisions about potential careers, Hass has one thing to say.
“Take advantage of these opportunities, and don’t hesitate at all!”