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Hallmarks of MCC's Biotechnology
Program are the opportunity for students
to earn Biotechnology Certificates after
completing 29 credits of coursework,
and then go out into the field in paid
internships. "It's a win-win for all, from
the students to the companies accepting
student interns," said Bladon.
"I want my students to get paid (as interns),
and once they have their certificates, they
go work in the biotech industry and get
paid as workers," she said.
The Biotech Program launched in 1990
with 25 students. Currently, almost 200
students are enrolled. Once students earn
their certificates, most continue on to earn
associate degrees with 66 credits and 90 to
95 percent go on to Boston University or
UMass Lowell, where they earn bachelor's
degrees in biotechnology and go into
research. Companies with which MCC
shares articulation agreements for
internships include Millipore, Genzyme,
Shire Human Genetics, Biogen Idec
and Pharmalucent.
"Our students are working all over
Massachusetts," said Bladon. "I
personally work with the recruiting
agents and also teach the five-hour
`Methods of Biotechnology' course that
prepares them to work in the industry."
Bladon's personal background is as
impressive as her success at MCC. Born
in Brazil in 1942, she and her brother,
economist Hamilton Tolosa, were raised by
a single mom, Haydee DeCarvalho, who
left her abusive husband to raise them on
her own in Rio de Janeiro.
"My mother didn't know it, but she was a
women's liberationist -- a women's libber --
before it came in to fashion," said Bladon.
DeCarvalho loved writing, but her
husband forbade her from doing it and
was upset when she won a writing prize
under a pen name. "He was mean and
abusive. She finally said, `That's it,' took
us and left. It was horrendous," Bladon
recalled. DeCarvalho fled with her
children, then 8 and 10, on her own
without her family's approval, and
worked three jobs to support them.
Eventually, her mother's writing earned
her international acclaim. DeCarvalho
was nominated for the Nobel Prize in
Literature in 1996 for her memoir on her
family's background in the Amazon
jungles of Brazil. "Everything I have,
I owe to my mother."
A good education was always her mother's
highest goal for her children, said Bladon,
and she and her brother both excelled in
school. "My mother enrolled us in a
Catholic school, thanks to a cousin who
was a priest. Then, in college, I thought
I wanted a degree in English, but took a
course in genetics and fell in love with it,"
said Bladon, who earned her B.S.
in biology from Catholic University
in Rio in 1967.
Bladon did research on tropical diseases
in Rio and got to know scientists from
Europe and the U.S. Soon, she had
applied for and received a Fulbright
Fellowship to attend the University
of Pittsburgh, where she would earn her
master's in biology in 1971. "I was young
and nave, but I loved the city and the
people," she recalled.
At Pittsburgh, she met her former
husband, John Bladon, another
graduate student. The couple moved
to the University of Michigan, where
she worked on her doctorate in human
genetics on a National Institutes of Health
fellowship. Between studies and research,
she had two daughters, both now grown
and married with children of their own.
After Bladon earned her Ph.D. in 1976,
the family relocated to Massachusetts,
where she held post-doctoral fellowships
in cancer pathology at Harvard Medical
School, and in genetics at the Eunice
Kennedy Shriver Center for Mental
Retardation. She also became an adjunct
professor at Worcester Polytechnic
LEFT: Biology Professor Mariluci Bladon works with students in the Biotechnology
Lab on the Lowell campus. ABOVE: Professor Bladon was born in Brazil where her mother, writer
Haydee DeCarvalho, single-handedly raised Mariluci and her brother, economist Hamilton Tolosa.
"We were the
pioneers the first to
start a Biotechnology
Program in a
community college.
Now other schools
mold their programs
like MCC's."
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