Teresa Johnson - Pursuing Big Dreams
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
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
“This young lady is going wherever she wants,” King says proudly.
— Sheila Guillaume