Mikayla Roybal Wins Internship at National Institute of Drug Addiction

Photo of Mikayla Roybal
Mikayla Roybal

Las Vegas, N.M.
– New Mexico Highlands University biology sophomore Mikayla Roybal has won a competitive
paid internship with the National Institute of Drug Addiction at the University
of California–Irvine for the summer of 2019.

“From this
internship, I am hoping to learn more about the underlying psychological and neurological
effects that drug abuse has on someone and why it is so difficult to break an addiction,”
Roybal said. “This internship will also allow me a unique lab experience that
will be relevant to my medical school aspirations.”

Roybal is an
18-year-old Las Vegas, New Mexico, native and 2018 Robertson High School graduate.
She started her academic career at Highlands early, at age 16, as a dual-credit
high school student.  

“My work ethic
thus far has been driven by my desire to retain as much knowledge as I can in
several different science subject areas in order to be well rounded. I possess
a highly competitive attitude when it comes to academics and I strive to always
reach my full potential. Knowledge is a powerful tool to have and once you have
it, no one can strip you of it,” Roybal said.

Roybal said that Highlands offers science majors extensive help toward their success, such as support from ARMAS, the university’s Achieving in Research, Math and Science Center.

“ARMAS provides
a welcoming, safe environment for students to study, work together and receive
help from peer supplemental instruction leaders who motivate and assist in
helping students find success. ARMAS is also like a family that provides
comfort to stressed science majors,” Roybal said.

Roybal said
biology professor Jessica Snow has influenced and inspired her the most in her
time at Highlands.

“Dr. Snow is a
valuable resource for pre-med students such as me, helping guide students on
this difficult journey. As a female science professor, Dr. Snow is a role model
to me, showing me that knowledge is power, and success is possible through hard
work and dedication. She taught me that anything is possible and I’m very
grateful,” Roybal said.

Snow said that
Roybal’s motivation to succeed is exceptional.

“Being only 18,
Mikayla far exceeds my expectations,” Snow said. “She is one of the top
performing students in my biology courses, always demonstrating how hard she
works to master the material.”

Snow said she
is proud of Roybal taking the big step with the UC-Irvine internship to learn
the science of drug addiction.

“I believe this
internship will propel Mikayla forward immensely. She will do everything her
mentors ask of her, representing Highlands and our state well,” Snow said.

Roybal said her
professional goal is to attend medical school and then specialize as a forensic

“Women are underrepresented in forensic pathology, which has always fascinated me. I hope to help provide justice for individuals who die as victims of criminal acts. This will also help victims’ families find closure,” Roybal said.