Student Story

Self-Curating the College Experience: Sojourn in Spain, Scientific Research, and Senior Care

Abigail Bloom standing among trees and bushes

“[Being] a Campus Ambassador gives me the privilege to introduce prospective students and their families to the Simmons community.”

An interview with Simmons senior Abigail (“Abi”) Bloom ’24.

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

My travel and study abroad experiences have impacted me the most, but I’d say my leadership roles, both as a Hillel board member and a Campus Ambassador, have had the most impact on the Simmons community.

Tell us more about your study abroad and internship experiences.

In 2022, I participated in a summer internship in Israel through an outside organization and had the opportunity to work at a research hospital in Jerusalem. Not only was this a wonderful career-building experience, but a remarkable experience of cultural immersion. In the fall of my senior year, I traveled to Madrid, Spain, for the semester. Here, I took health science classes at a local university and once again had the chance to experience a new culture and language. During my time here in Boston, I spent a semester working in a microbiology lab with Dr. Funmilola Ayeni. Additionally, right now, I’m completing my capstone project with a health tech start-up called CareYaya.

Please explain the research projects that you pursued at Simmons.

During my time at Simmons, I’ve participated in multiple projects, all touching on various aspects of public health. For example, during my junior year, I worked in a microbiology lab on campus, assisting Dr. Funmilola Ayeni study the potential public health benefits of bacteria on gastrointestinal illnesses. As part of PH347, “Public Health Seminar,” our class worked on a project to tackle menstrual equity in Boston area schools. Lastly, my senior capstone project is Promoting Senior Health Through Intergenerational Caregiving and Dementia Awareness with CareYaya. Through this project, I’ve collaborated with local organizations, including the Peterborough Senior Center and the East Boston Social Center, to inform individuals about the benefits of companion care and educate seniors on digital health literacy.

What was your favorite course at Simmons and why?

That’s a really hard question. Some of my favorite courses include Constitutional Law and Microbiology. Both of these classes allowed me to delve further into topics in which I already had a budding interest. Microbiology seamlessly connects the subjects of biology and public health, which first drew me to the topic. On the other hand, the constitutional law course intrigued me because it was so different from every other class I had taken at Simmons! Additionally, wonderful professors taught both courses: Kristina Pechulis, JD, and Dr. Ayeni.

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

During my first semester at Simmons, I took my first public health class, Public Health 101. We were online this semester due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Felipe Agudelo taught the course, and though I only had this one course with him throughout my four years at Simmons, his research on HIV/AIDS has always stuck with me as a laudable contribution to the public health field.

What is your favorite Simmons memory?

My favorite Simmons memory would probably be the time my friend group had a karaoke night in the basement lounge in North Hall. Apologies to the RA on duty.

How has Simmons taught you to be a leader?

I like to think that Simmons gave me pathways into leadership rather than taught me how to lead. Since my freshman year at Simmons, I’ve been on Simmons Hillel’s executive board. This position has encompassed a multitude of responsibilities, including advocating for Jewish students on campus. I’m also a Campus Ambassador, which gives me the privilege to introduce prospective students and their families to the Simmons community.

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

It’s okay to go at your own pace. In high school, I was constantly overwhelmed with the amount of commitments I had to keep up with, and I wanted to prevent becoming burnt out in college. Eventually, I realized it’s completely normal to get burnt out sometimes, and during these times, it’s so important to prioritize your health. You can’t expect yourself to perform well academically if you don’t get enough sleep.

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Kathryn Dickason