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The Kerpel Series: professional support, then friendship

Dr. Marianna Budai, senior lecturer at the Department of Pharmaceutics of Semmelweis University and Dr. Réka Balogh, PhD student at the School of PhD Studies first met as mentor and student seven years ago in the framework of the Kerpel Program, but they have become good friends afterwards. In the Kerpel Series mentor-student pairs will be introduced, who participate in the Kerpel-Fronius Ödön Talent Support Program.

According to Dr. Marianna Budai, even if their meeting was accidental, they could work together extremely well. In the past years she was the mentor of several students. Dr. Réka Balogh was a second-year pharmacy student when the two of them met and started to work together. As Dr. Marianna Budai recalled, Réka started her Student Scientific Association Work (TDK) at that time, and she was uncertain which area to choose, she was less experienced in grant applications but she was always enthusiastic.

“I so much appreciated her support. I wanted to join this program because I needed guidelines about how to proceed in a research career. When someone is uncertain how to go ahead, a mentor can help both professionally and personally and can share experiences or give advice.”, highlighted Dr. Réka Balogh

As Dr. Réka Balogh described, the Kerpel Program can be considered as a scientific safety net: on the one hand all students receive a professional mentor, but on the other hand there are grant application opportunities, opportunities for financial support to be able to participate in conferences or to make poster presentations. She recommends this program especially to those students who are interested in research above the average, who are determined and who would like to receive professional support. According to her it always depends on the individual what exactly the program can provide to him/her.

Dr. Réka Balogh emphasized that cohesion has an important role, since in the program many students meet from different years and get to know each other’s research work and other activities in which they are talented. According to Dr. Marianna Budai some of the students are gifted in certain arts, some of them are good in sports, but it is important that the student somehow stands out from the crowd.

“It is not by chance that the majority of Kerpel students are also TDK students, since usually they are the students who feel the necessary plus in themselves and start to find their way. They are enthusiastic, they would like to achieve more and therefore many times they are capable of more. As a mentor, in general I am working with two students in parallel. The tasks are influenced by the fact in which life period the students currently are, whether they are university students or already PhD students. What is sure that they are becoming more and more capable of working individually.”, Dr. Marianna Budai summed up her mentor experiences.

As part of the Kerpel Program, Dr. Marianna Budai prepares annual reports about her students and she always indicates in it whether the students attended international conferences, whether they held a lecture in English, whether they presented a poster, whether they spent some time abroad, whether they were ranked in TDK or OTDK competitions or whether they had publications with impact factor during their university studies. Dr. Marianna Budai highlighted that she had students, including Réka, who have accomplished all the above mentioned tasks. Since then Réka has been working on her PhD dissertation, and she almost finished her PhD work.

In the beginning there was a professional relationship between the mentor, Dr. Marianna Budai and her student, and it has become more personal during the years. Now they have become good friends. She mentioned that when she was on maternity leave with her child, Réka went to see them and played with the baby. According to Dr. Marianna Budai, it is good that Réka had the opportunity to see how it works to be a researcher as a woman who has a family. She also highlighted that she wanted to show a good example to her student, that this is not a dead-end. Life still goes on, she writes articles at home and deals with scientific work, but less actively, which is completely natural.

In 2007 the Senate of Semmelweis University established a talent support program named after its former professor, Ödön Kerpel-Fronius. Those Hungarian and international students can participate in this program, whose name is indicated in the List of Excellence based on the decision of the university’s Talent Support Committee.

Szilvia Tóth-Szabó
Photo: Attila Kovács, Semmelweis University
Translation: Katalin Illés-Romhányi



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