To see video of Adam Port describing his internship experience at Savannah River National Laboratory, go to www.northaugustatoday.com.
Life is full of opportunities and when they present themselves, Adam Port isn’t afraid to take them.
A native of Spokane, Wash. and a part of a military family, Port joined the U.S. Air Force upon graduating from high school.
“My stepdad was in the Air Force,” said the North Augusta resident. “After he got out of the Air Force and I was getting ready to get out of high school, I thought that would be a good way to go.”
He served in the Air Force from 2002-2010 in satellite communications and later as a recruiter in Virginia. He served two tours in Iraq during his time in the service.
When he got out of the Air Force, his family relocated to North Augusta to be closer to his wife’s family in Evans, and for him to go to school at University of South Carolina Aiken.
Making the decision to go back to school also meant making a commitment to give it his all, said Port.
“When I decided to get out of the Air Force to go to school, I knew I needed to do well in school because I gave up a pretty good career,” he said. “Whenever I think about not finishing an assignment or not going to class, I remember how important it is that I do the best I can.”
He’s kept that promise of commitment.
The junior is majoring in chemistry with a minor in biology/pre-med and is in the honors program, is the lead math and science tutor at the school, member of the honor and service organization Gamma Beta Phi Society, has done research in the university’s analytical chemistry lab and is currently doing research in the biochemistry lab, and serves on the university judicial board.
Port was encouraged to get involved outside of classes by one of his professors and the assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs, Dr. Chad Leverette.
“I took his advice and kind of ran with it,” he said. “I feel that I am getting a lot more out of my education because I’m not just going to class.”
For the past two summers and part-time during last school year, he interned with the Savannah River National Laboratory in the Mobile Plutonium Facility where he developed an electronic tracking system for equipment used in the facility and also prepared equipment for shipping such as packing and labeling, he said.
The internship gave him access to chemists and he observed different projects that chemistry can be used for, he said.
“It (was) really good to take some of the things that I’ve learned in school and see how they function in an actual job,” he said.
This past summer, he participated in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program at University of South Carolina Columbia and placed second in the social science category at the Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel McNair/SSS Scholars Research Conference in Atlanta.
His research project topic was “What in the Fukushima Should We Do?: Analyzing the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster and Japan’s Reaction”, which he chose because of his internship.
Participating in the program and placing in the conference was “amazing”, said Port.
“I did work really hard on the project but I didn’t expect to place because all of the people in the program are very bright and intelligent,” he said. “I was really excited that all that work paid off.”
Last month, he volunteered as a patient advocate with SC Mission 2012 Midlands, a two-day event in Columbia that provided free health care services to those who are uninsured or underserved.
While his activities and involvement keeps him busy, he’s glad that he took Leverette’s advice.
“I’ve applied for everything that I could and tried to get into as many activities as I could and now, because I’ve done those things, I have more options,” he said.
He hopes that his dedication and hard work is an example for his children and for other veterans who are coming out of the military.
“I really want to show my kids that no matter where you came from, that if you put in the work, you can get to wherever you want to go,” he said. “Also, to other people in my situation who are vets and married with kids, you can still be successful in school. You can make it work.”
Port’s future goals are to get into a M.D/Ph.D. program and then teach at a medical school and do research.
Port and his wife Stefanie have two children, Ethan, 5, and Abigail, 4.