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My name is Laila Kamhawy, and I’m a senior from Waukee High School. Last year I was enrolled in APEX’s Medical and Bioscience Research course. I loved it so much that I decided to enroll in the Animal and Vet Sciences course this year. What I appreciate about APEX is that I can learn about possible careers but also grow my professional skills.

One of the main reasons why I have enjoyed my time at APEX is because it has allowed me to improve my confidence and grow as a leader. Before starting my first APEX course, I was very shy and despised public speaking. I still don’t love it, but I am much more confident in my abilities. I even find myself volunteering for public speaking opportunities now. Because my confidence has grown so much, I was even able to step up to be a leader in my extracurricular activities.

Another thing about APEX that I appreciate is the real projects that we have an opportunity to work on. For example, last year I researched the effects of different growth serums on cells. We cultured cells in two different serums to compare growth trends. This year, in Animal and Vet Sciences I’m finishing up an observational research project with the Blank Park Zoo. My team and I are studying general and reproductive behaviors of the pair of Dragon Moray Eels at the zoo. As soon as this idea was proposed, I knew it was for me. I have always loved the ocean and have always been fascinated by the animals that live there. I never thought I would be able to study marine life in Iowa, but here I am! My team and I designed the experiment and made our own behavior tracking chart called an ethogram. Our project wasn’t very successful, but we’re able to take that feedback and improve it for the next associates who do this project. Right now, we’re making a poster about our research so we can present our findings to zookeepers, WCSD staff, and even college professors.

APEX gives you endless opportunities for growth. I have really appreciated the personal relationships with my instructors, as they are more like personal coaches than teachers.  I feel comfortable asking them anything from advice on careers to help with personal struggles. For all of these reasons, I feel that everyone should try and enroll in at least one APEX course!