Student Chapters

Volunteerism is a way of life for undergrad

Steven Lundeberg
By Steven Lundeberg
May 28, 2022

If everyone donated time and talent as freely as Grace Petrina, there would be no shortage of community volunteers.

Petrina, a third-year Honors College student majoring in biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State University, helps out with the Polk Community Free Clinic, which assists people without health insurance. She works at the South Corvallis Food Bank as well.

Petrina’s volunteer résumé also includes Room at the Inn, a Corvallis cold-weather emergency shelter for women and children; IMPACT for Life, which helps young adults with disabilities stay physically active; and a vaccination campaign for human papillomavirus.

“I became more actively involved in service work my junior year of high school when we were required to do some form of service for the International Baccalaureate program,” said Petrina, a South Eugene High School graduate. “I really adored the sort of community connection that service lent itself to, and I became involved with leadership positions that allowed me to help other students serve.”

Petrina was co-president of South Eugene’s Rotary Interact club, a youth branch of Rotary, and a group leader for her National Honor Society chapter, and she’s continued to hold positions of responsibility in student organizations since arriving at OSU.

Petrina is the co-president of Girls’ Empowerment, Engineering, and Outreach and the president of Rotaract, another Rotary affiliate.

“The former focuses on helping girls excel in STEM and the latter is more general service-oriented,” she said. “GEEO hosts a remote STEM camp, which I head, every term for K-12 girls and has done other smaller projects related to classroom presentations or sending free STEM kits to classrooms.”

This year, Rotaract has helped at the Starker Arts Garden for Education, a one-acre operation in Corvallis that produces fruits and vegetables for food banks and soup kitchens. The club has also worked with the South Corvallis Food Bank and Home Life, which provides assistance to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“We have also done a collaborative event with INTO-OSU, which supports international students, and are hosting a book drive to collect donations to Operation Paperback, which sends books to U.S. military personnel and their families,” she said. “And during the pandemic, we’ve assisted with Corvallis Rotary’s canned food drive.”

Petrina, who is minoring in history and public health, is part of a research group that studies the impact of cancer survivorship on interpersonal relationships and a second group focused on sexual and reproductive health and the formulation of sexual education programs.

She also works at OSU’s Genetic Code Expansion Center, which recently received a $5.6 million National Institutes of Health grant to study novel proteins — those made from amino acids outside the standard 20 — and the role they might play in new medical treatments.

“I tend to feel most connected to projects related to community health and the expansion of access to medical care,” Petrina said. “I want to pursue a career in the field of community health, either in health law or as a public health official, focusing on sexual and reproductive health.”

When she’s not engaged with school or volunteer work, Petrina enjoys reading historical fiction, hiking and spending time with her dogs and family.

This article was republished with permission from Oregon State University. Read the original.

Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Steven Lundeberg
Steven Lundeberg

Steven Lundeberg is a news writer at Oregon State University.

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in People

People highlights or most popular articles

This MOSAIC scholar’s journey brought her home to share science
Profile

This MOSAIC scholar’s journey brought her home to share science

May 23, 2024

Melissa Ramirez uses computations and experiments to design new reactions and mentorship to grow the research community.

More than just omics
Interview

More than just omics

May 21, 2024

Meet the three co-organizers of an intimate meeting that focuses on transcription from all angles.

2024 Goldwater scholars announced
Award

2024 Goldwater scholars announced

May 20, 2024

Thirteen of the scholarship recipients are ASBMB student members.

In memoriam: Edith C. Wolff
In Memoriam

In memoriam: Edith C. Wolff

May 20, 2024

She was an enzyme biochemist at the National Institutes of Health and a former assistant to the editor of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

This MOSAIC scholar believes in the power of perseverance
Diversity

This MOSAIC scholar believes in the power of perseverance

May 16, 2024

Wagner Silva Dantas aims to develop new approaches to reducing fat mass while preserving muscle mass by studying a crucial regulator for maintaining redox balance.

ASBMB honors 2024 outstanding student chapter
Student Chapters

ASBMB honors 2024 outstanding student chapter

May 15, 2024

Founded just three years ago, the University of South Alabama chapter shows leadership in educational activities, commitment to increasing public scientific awareness and more.