Student Profiles: Charles Beshears
Major: Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Are you the first in your family to attend college? If so, please share with us what motivated you to want to pursue a college degree.
I am the first person in my family to pursue a four-year degree. I am from a low-income family, and I watched my parents struggle for years just to put food on the table, and keep a roof over our heads. I didn’t want my family to have to face those challenges so I decided to get a bachelor's degree so I could make a more stable income.
Why did you pick UTEP?
I chose to attend UTEP due to the relatively low tuition rates that made attending school for me possible, because I had to pay for my education with financial aid and my Montgomery GI Bill.
What sparked your interest in clinical laboratory sciences?
This is actually not my first degree. I have a BSc in Environmental Science and an MSc in Geology. I joined the Army after finishing my master's program and my military occupational specialty (MOS) was actually a medical laboratory specialist. I know that my prior education is so different from the health field, but after serving in the army I found that I had a strong interest in helping diagnose and treat illnesses.
After I finished my military service, I decided to continue the training I received from my military service. UTEP has the only Clinical Laboratory Science program in West Texas, so I reenrolled for my second bachelors at UTEP and applied to the CLS program after I completed the pre-CLS program requirements.
Tell us about a service-learning or research experience you’ve had at UTEP.
Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to perform any clinical research while pursing my current degree. But, we perform a lot of community outreach in this program which allows us as students to volunteer for community health fairs and provide free diagnostic testing to persons that may not otherwise have access to health care. The times that I have been able to volunteer has really opened my eyes to the lack of affordable health care in our community.
This has motivated me to volunteer in as many health fairs as I can fit in my schedule to help provide even the most basic of services. One recent health fair I attended was the HOPE fair which is held at the home free center. I had the chance to meet many of the residents of the shelter. It really opened my eyes to the situation that they are in and I was happy I could give them even a little comfort and care.
What are your career aspirations?
I have a special interest in immunohematology which is the section of the laboratory that provides the blood products used in the hospital. I plan to obtain a certification as a Specialist in Blood Banking (SBB) and either work in a hospital Blood Bank or work for one of the major immunohematology reference laboratories.
What advice would you give to a student thinking about studying clinical laboratory sciences?
The one thing I would tell anyone interested in studying CLS is to be very organized. The program is difficult and it's easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of information that is taught to you in such a short period of time. But, to not become too stressed out because this program is not just course based. We actually work side by side with trained professionals in hospital laboratories in the final year of the program. This really allows you to apply everything you’ve previously learned.