Med school bound
Biology graduate credits her advisor for college success
KENNESAW, Ga. (May 18, 2017) — Few Kennesaw State students can say they went from tending goats and sheep in Nigeria to graduating from college. And fewer still are heading to med school in the fall like senior biology major Michelle Edward.
“My decision to attend KSU was unplanned,” said the 20-year old. “I had only been back in the country for four months after a six-year hiatus in Nigeria and was gradually losing hope that I would be able to attend university that fall.”
After taking a gap year between high school, Edward said she “was eager to start college but I had missed most deadlines and was greatly misinformed about how to gain admission as an international student.”
“After hearing about KSU from a family friend, I approached my parents about wanting to attend,” she said. “I wanted a school that was affordable, but that could also guarantee me one of the best educational experiences I could receive in Georgia.”
During a summer visit to KSU, Edward had a fortuitous visit with newly hired College of Science and Mathematics advisor Hannah Santoro.
“Michelle met with me at KSU the summer before she started at KSU,” Santoro said. “Accompanied by her father, she came to learn not only about what she should expect within her biology degree, but also what she should expect from college in general.”
The experience was so positive, Edward quickly applied; it was two days before the final deadline.
“You could say that I was the happiest girl in the world,” said Edward, “when I was accepted to KSU three weeks before classes began.”
Santoro recalled Edward’s enthusiasm the day the two met.
“She left such an amazing first impression with me that I still clearly remember it. This began an advising relationship that would continue until today.”
Edward faced many challenges when she began at KSU at the age of 17.
“I remember panicking about that one class every semester that would make me doubt my journey through college,” said Edward. “I would run to my academic advisor, Hannah, mid-semester to vent, but she’d always reassure me that there is nothing too hard to accomplish and that all I need to do is believe in myself and try my best.”
Another challenge was scheduling her studies and extracurricular activities.
“I would have to say time management was one of the toughest challenges for me,” Edward said. “It certainly isn’t easy being a college student. From extracurricular activities to work to classes and research, it's like you really can't catch a break.”
She said she found solace in the saying that a “short pencil is better than a long memory,” meaning that it’s often better to write things down than commit them to memory.
“I found early on in my college journey that I have to list everything I need to complete: the deadlines, presentations, work and social events, so I use a combination of to-do lists and Google Calendar to keep myself and my time in check.”
According to Santoro, advising Edward was relatively easy because she was a model student.
“Whenever she had any questions, she sought my advice immediately,” said Santoro. “And, when advice was given, she listened and followed it without any reservation. She very well could be the poster child for ‘how to perfectly navigate the biology degree.’”
Asked what she would tell a new pre-med student, Edward replied, “It’s OK to fail, but you shouldn’t give up. If you put in that extra work and strive for what you want, you will get there. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your professors and ask for advice. I feel like that is really key. You are here for only one person – yourself – so asking questions and asking for guidance is fine.”
As her graduation date approached, Edward shared some good news with her trusted advisor Santoro.
“Michelle said she had just received ‘the letter,’” said Santoro. “She had been accepted to one medical school and was hoping to hear good news from another.
“We both jumped up and down and she gave me a hug. I told her how proud I was of her. Having been an advisor at Kennesaw State for the past four and a half years, she is one of the first students – if not the first – I have advised.”
One long journey is over and the hard work has paid off. Edward, an Honors College program student, graduated last week with a Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude. She begins her next journey, to become a doctor, in the fall.
– Robert S. Godlewski
Photos by Lauren Lopez de Azua
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.