Student Story

Ganad Neka '23: I Want to Make an Impression on the World as Gwen Ifill Did

Why did you choose to attend Simmons?

I am a first-generation immigrant. My family and I came from Kenya, but we are Ethiopians, and we came here around 2011. Education has been an important thing for us. Most of the reason we're here is to pursue higher education and a better standard of living.

It was actually not that difficult deciding where I wanted to study because Simmons fit me best. It is a very small school, so you have more opportunities to connect with the professors and the community around you. I knew I wouldn't get that connection at a bigger university.

Another thing for me was the location because there are so many things around Simmons — other friendly colleges, shops, the City. I honestly think I have never made a better decision.

What professors have helped you reach your goals?

So many of the professors I’ve gotten to know at Simmons are just so wonderful. It was just amazing to see how committed they are to help you do your best. My chemistry professor and major advisor, Nancy Lee, has helped me so much. Professor Lee is always open to assist you in any way, whether it's academic-related or extracurricular activities, so she's always given me advice and support.

I honestly think I have never made a better decision.

What does the Ifill Scholarship mean to you?

I was shocked when I learned that I received the Ifill Scholarship. Even though I am not studying journalism, as she did, we are both African American women, and I want to make an impression on the world as she did. Gwen Ifill made such a significant impact and had a great career. I also hope that I can be that image to many immigrants and refugees who have had experiences like mine. Whatever and wherever you come from is not something that should hold you back — instead, it should be the reason why you want to achieve even bigger things.

As you look to the future, how do you hope to connect your passion to a lifelong purpose?

I definitely know that I want to go to medical school, but I don't think I want to jump right into it. I want to pursue more research opportunities, work with organizations, hospitals, and possibly volunteer back home in Ethiopia. I want to look back and say that I took that time to grow and see what I truly want.

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