Susana Donkor '21 Advocates for Simmons Students
Simmons has prepared me to be a leader because it has taught me flaws and my strengths. A true leader is not someone who tells people what to do or dictates a project — a leader is someone who allows others to shine while bringing forth their strengths.
What made you choose the biochemistry program at Simmons?
I’m majoring in biochemistry on the pre-med track with a minor in studio arts. I wasn't inspired to be a biochemist per se, but I will say that I enjoy learning about the chemistry in all living things. Majoring in biochemistry also gives me the leeway to practice medicine or pursue nearly any type of scientific research.
The funny thing is I got accepted with the intended major of neuroscience because I’m an aspiring neurologist. During an Accepted Students Day, I met Tema Fodje ‘19, who was a pre-med student. Tema let me know that it would be easier to be a biochem student because I'd be able to finish my prerequisites without any extra planning.
I was initially under the impression that you had to major in neurology to become a neurologist. This is actually false — you can major in anything as long as you complete the appropriate prerequisites for medical school. Before declaring my major at the end of my sophomore year, I did bounce back and forth between biology and biochemistry. Ultimately I realized that I enjoy chemistry and the Chemistry Department made me feel at home.
Do you have a favorite course you've taken so far?
My favorite course thus far would have to be “Sociology 101.” I had already taken sociology prior to attending Simmons, so the course material was not new. The new experience was the environment. It was fascinating to see the actual physical divide in the classroom because of the difference in "opinion.” In the classroom, I was one of three people of color, and being the only Black person in the class allowed me to visualize real-life situations. The course also allowed me to vocalize and speak up against gaslighting by peers and microaggressions made in the classroom.
What’s your favorite internship experience?
My favorite internship experience was working at Indigo Ag as a researcher in product discovery. I was treated as a colleague and a mentee at my job, making it fun and practical. I had the opportunity to work on my own 90% of the time, conduct my own small research project and present my findings to the rest of the product discovery team.
How is Simmons preparing you to become a leader in your field?
Simmons has prepared me to be a leader because it has taught me flaws and my strengths. A true leader is not someone who tells people what to do or dictates a project — a leader is someone who allows others to shine while bringing forth their strengths. A leader also advocates for others, even when you have to stand alone and become the bad guy.
For example, I've been serving as the vice president for the Commuter Student Organization for the last year and a half. My friends and I decided to start our own org so we could advocate for the commuter students at Simmons.
Tell us about the RISE mentorship program.
RISE mentor is the mentorship program for the Boston Scholars at Simmons developed by my good friend Cheeznah Milord ‘21, with Dr. Nakeisha Cody’s help. Cheeznah, along with another friend of mine, Chiara Beauvais '21, and I are all Boston Scholars. The three of us always complained about how we did not have support when we first came to Simmons.
Before RISE, the Boston scholars did not have any guidance or tips on how to be successful at Simmons and maintain our scholarships — we were just thrown into the lion's den and left to figure it out on our own. If not for self-advocacy and the help of the older students at Simmons, I cannot imagine where we would be. Cheeznah decided that it was time for a change and developed RISE into a program that paired first-year scholars with upper-level students to provide tips and support that would be helpful to succeeding at Simmons. For me being a mentor is honestly just being a supportive friend that holds you accountable. The whole point of being a mentor is showing others the tips, tricks, and methods to be successful in their goals.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduation, I will be taking a year off of school to work in research while volunteering. For me, I need a break from school, especially since the pandemic started. I need some time to work on myself and rediscover what makes me happy before going to medical school.
Do you have a favorite Simmons memory?
I actually don’t have a specific favorite memory at Simmons because a new memory is created every time I am with my friends. But if I have to pick one, it would be the memories of becoming friends with each of my close friends at Simmons. They are truly the ones who have encouraged me, motivated me, and kept a smile on my face while at Simmons.