Student Story

Discovering an Empowering Atmosphere, Supportive Mentors, and Leadership Opportunities at Simmons

Photo of Debora Edouard

“The empowering atmosphere [at Simmons], coupled with supportive mentors, equipped me to lead.”

An interview with Simmons senior Debora Edouard ’24.

What are the most impactful things you have done over the last four years?

Leading the new Simmons chapter of the National Society of Black Women in Medicine has been incredibly rewarding. It solidified my belief in the power of representation and mentorship. Seeing this organization's impact on others and realizing I can make a positive difference now motivates me.

Did your course of study entail studying abroad?

To fulfill my pre-med aspirations, I had the incredible opportunity to shadow surgeons in various specialties while exploring Rome, Italy. This unique experience, funded partly by a Simmons Honors program scholarship, solidified my passion for medicine and global health.

Please explain the research that you pursued at Simmons.

My research focuses on a potential treatment for pancreatic cancer, which I explored using RNA interference (RNAi) to target a specific protein (phosphatidylserine synthase 1, or PTTDSS1) in cancers caused by the KRAS gene mutation. In simpler terms, I investigated a method to “silence” a gene that fuels pancreatic cancer and see if it could be a therapeutic approach.

Note: Edouard received a Senior Scholar award for this research.

Tell us about your unique experience as a first-generation college student.

Navigating everything from professors to paperwork was initially daunting. However, I persevered, learning to advocate for myself and leverage resources. This experience fostered resilience and independence, which will be valuable assets in my medical career.

What was your favorite course at Simmons and why?

My favorite course was Black Transnationalism, co-taught by (former) Assistant Professor Frances Sullivan and Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations Abel Djassi Amado. It explored the global African diaspora, highlighting Black communities’ rich history and diverse experiences worldwide. It broadened my perspective and appreciation for the interconnectedness of our world.

Who was your most inspirational professor or mentor at Simmons, and why?

Professor Jennifer Roecklein-Canfield, my research mentor, has tremendously influenced me. She nurtured my interest in research by involving me in all aspects of lab work and connecting me with professionals in the field. Her guidance and encouragement have been invaluable.

What is your favorite Simmons memory?

The Black Student Organization’s fashion show (spring 2022, “Decades” theme) is my most cherished memory. It was a pivotal moment, especially coming off our isolating freshman year due to COVID-19. The event fostered a strong sense of community, and I made many close friends who continue to support me.

How has Simmons taught you to be a leader?

Simmons’ women-centered environment fostered my leadership development. Strong role models boosted my confidence, while presentations and group work honed my communication and collaboration skills. This empowering atmosphere, coupled with supportive mentors, equipped me to lead.

What advice do you have for current and incoming Simmons students?

My advice is to maintain a healthy balance! While academics, research, and clubs are important, make time for non-school activities you enjoy. This balance will help you avoid burnout and approach your studies with renewed focus and energy.

Publish Date


Kathryn Dickason