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Teresa Johnson - Pursuing Big Dreams

 Teresa Johnson’s outstanding academic record and recent participation in CCSU Biomolecular Sciences Professor Thomas King’s scientific research project has afforded her an opportunity to become a candidate for a prestigious National Institute of Health (NIH) grant. Teresa, a biomolecular sciences major, is in the process of turning her dream into an exciting future.

Coming to CCSU
Coming from the island of St. Kitts, Teresa initially viewed college life through a unique lens. “I always knew that I would move from St. Kitts,” she says. “During a summer visit with my aunt in Connecticut, at the age of 18 I decided to stay for a year to gain residency in order to attend a state university at an affordable cost. I am glad of my decision.”

“My initial college experience was very different from others’ experiences. For instance, I had not taken any college tours. In addition, being from outside the state and having to commute to campus during my first semester, I had no friends upon entering the University.” A lack that she has more than made up for, thanks to her involvement in several of the University’s student clubs.

Eyes on the Prize
Reflecting upon the words of her father, Teresa says that she aims to “keep her stride and not be distracted.” She recalls her father’s familiar refrain: “Your younger sisters and your family members are watching you.” Teresa says, “I know that my parents are living through me in a way, so I feel the need to keep going and not fail.”

A Model Student
Throughout Teresa’s tenure at CCSU, she has proven to be a model student. Maintaining a high GPA throughout her college career, Teresa has earned the following honors: the 21st-Century Diversity Scholar Award, membership into the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society, 2004 National Dean’s List recipient, three consecutive semesters on the Dean’s list, and the United States Achievers Academy Scholar Award.

Teresa mentions that although she wanted to excel academically, she felt it important to “break out of her shell” and become involved in student activities. Juggling a work schedule and a demanding academic schedule, she chose to be part of campus life. She is the treasurer of the Biology Club, secretary of the Caribbean Club, and a member of the campus chapter of the NAACP, and was named the 2004 CCSU Orientation Leader of the Year. Through her campus involvement, Teresa has come to know many students at CCSU.

Looking to the Future
Teresa says that she has “always been curious about the way the body works” and hopes to be accepted into medical school and subsequently into a Ph.D. program for specialized medical research. Teresa is preparing for both areas by putting in the extra hours of study, preparing for the MCAT exam, and participating in scientific research with her biomolecular sciences professor, Dr. King.

Teresa enjoys her scientific research, which focuses on sterile mice known as “mshi,” an acronym for male sterility and hysto incompatibility. King is working with Teresa to identify the missing gene that makes these mice sterile. Her task is to help determine why mishi mice do not make sperm, and how this abnormal development occurs. King notes that Teresa’s work has reduced the pool of gene candidates from 19 down to six. “Because of Teresa’s assistance, we are now much closer to finding the defective gene.”

Although the paperwork involved in submitting a grant application to NIH is tedious, students like Teresa make all of the paperwork worthwhile,” says King. In order for Teresa to become a candidate for the NIH grant, she not only must prove her interest in scientific study but also present a record of academic excellence as proof that she will be likely to enter and complete a medical or Ph.D. training program after CCSU.

“This young lady is going wherever she wants,” King says proudly.

— Sheila Guillaume

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