SPARTANBURG, S.C. (courtesy wofford.edu) — Some of the chatter in Oncocyte’s Irvine, California, and Nashville, Tennessee, offices this summer focused on the interns being impressive.
It’s praise that Oncocyte’s CEO Ronnie Andrews ’81 and a Wofford College Trustee is accustomed to hearing.
“It makes me feel incredibly proud because most people in California have never heard of Wofford,” Andrews says.
Oncocyte is a molecular diagnostics company focused on providing tests and solutions to support the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Since 2006, Andrews has made it a priority to provide internships for Terriers, or as he calls them around the office, “T-Dawgs.” Usually, there are two or three. This summer, Oncocyte had seven. Five were in California and two were in the company’s recently opened Nashville office.
Andrew Bowen ’22, a biology and Spanish major from Charlotte, North Carolina, interned in Oncocyte’s medical education department; Laura Futrell ’21, a recent graduate with degrees in economics and Spanish, from Denton, North Carolina, was in business development; Shelton Laney ’21, a recent graduate from Greenville, South Carolina, who majored in biology, and interned in the CLIA lab; Julia Maynard ’22, a biology major from Greenwood, South Carolina, was in marketing; Carrie Metts ’23, a mathematics and studio art double major from Charleston, South Carolina, was in data analytics; Will Reed ’22, a finance major from Charlotte, North Carolina, was in business development; and Chandler Robinson ’22, a biology major from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, was in medical education.
Catie Cronister ’20 was offered a job after she earned a master’s degree over the summer. Andrews said the company wanted to offer another recent graduate a job, but she already had a position lined up following her internship with Oncocyte.
Metts wrote in “R” code, an analytical bioinformatics program that supported a company researcher’s work with large genomic datasets, RNAs (molecules similar to DNA) that correlate to immune therapy resistance.
“My coursework will prepare me for the field of data science and analytics,” says Metts, who was in the Nashville office. “However, because I ultimately want to pursue a career in data science with a bioinformatics application, it’s crucial that I gain some knowledge of the medical field as well. While I hope to take a biology class or two at Wofford, I know that most of what I will learn will come from first-hand experience such as internships. Being thrown into the world of genetics this summer has left me with the vocabulary and understanding to equip me to work with genomic data.”
Terriers were recognized at Oncocyte for their ability to contribute, their work ethic and appreciation for the opportunities presented.
“This internship began at a pivotal point in my life as a fresh graduate,” Futrell says. “I graduated with degrees in economics and Spanish with a whole lot of interest in a wide array of fields. I developed a deeper interest in health economics during my time at Wofford, which is why I decided to pursue this experience to get a taste of what work in the field might look like. I’ve learned so much about survival analysis and cost-effectiveness modeling used in assessing the impact of certain treatments in the field of oncology. I’ve gotten great practice working with data and presenting technical information in an understandable way.”
Wofford’s interns didn’t just get hands-on experience, they also learned how to sense a company’s work culture.
“Oncocyte has truly set the standard for what I will look for in a work environment in the future: mutual respect, encouragement and friendliness,” Metts says.
Andrews encourages the college’s alumni to provide internship opportunities at their companies.
“If you can’t support students financially, supporting them with an internship is a way to prepare them for the world they’re entering,” Andrews says. “Give it a shot and let one or two of these young men and women intern for the summer and give them a chance to impress you.”