Student Success – Michelle Ramsahoye
03 February 2021
"Always embrace your inner creativity and follow your curiosities . . . If there’s anything that you’re wondering about, don’t wonder anymore. Go and search for your answer.” – Michelle Ramsahoye
The sky’s the limit for this awe-inspiring student! Having moved to Harford County in 2016, Michelle Ramsahoye chose Harford for its “small campus” feel. From that point on, there was no stopping her. Michelle began her college career as a Digital Arts major, but will finish as a dual major graduate and Outstanding Student Leadership award recipient in May, with an Associate of Science in Physics and Biology. Her resume has many impressive accomplishments that were achieved through determination, discipline, and countless hours of hard work.
As one of the 2019 Harford Dream Scholars under the College’s Achieving the Dream initiative, Michelle has taken advantage of every opportunity to achieve her dreams. From applying for and receiving several scholarships to participating in fairs and presenting at conferences, Michelle gained the confidence, experience, and knowledge that has served her well by opening additional doors of opportunity.
As such, Michelle felt extremely fortunate to be awarded scholarships such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM scholarship, The Washington-Baltimore-Hampton Region Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) scholarship, and the Blanche Fletcher Memorial scholarship. These scholarships enabled Michelle to attend HCC full time with less financial burden and led to career training opportunities for her. Most notably, her summer 2018 paid research internship at Howard University afforded her the opportunity to work on a project for which she studied the various genes connected to Type 2 diabetes, specifically in African Americans.
Michelle also participated in the College’s first Imagination Fair and presented at various conferences in 2018. At Harford’s Imagination Fair, Michelle received a Student Award from the College to support her project, A STEAM (Sci., Tech., Eng., Art, Math.) Learning Approach: Exploring Rayleigh-Taylor Instability via the “Accidental Painting Technique.” She presented an interactive session at the Imagination Fair and a lecture at the 4th Annual Maryland Collegiate STEM Conference demonstrating the interaction of science and art. She also presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students and the 2018 Summer WBHR-LSAMP Research Symposium. Says Professor Jaclyn Madden, “Michelle is a science communicator and educator, and she seeks to share her passion for science and learning with others. Michelle shows how cross-discipline studies and creativity are a large part of science exploration.”
Another experience of Michelle’s here at Harford that she describes as one of her most defining was the ability to develop her own research under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Jaclyn Madden and Lee Ann Anderson. Michelle’s research, which was honored as an Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Presentation by the Washington, DC branch of the American Society for Microbiology, involved examining if and how acoustic vibrations of a specific frequency can affect the cell viability of biofilms. Biofilms are communities of bacteria that have adhered to a surface and can result in health problems for humans, ranging from dental plaque to fatal infections of the heart. Michelle was able to develop her own methodology and hypothesis, as well as have full access to the microbiology lab to work on her research. Through this she realized how imperative it is for a future researcher to have lab experience in technique as well as knowing how to build and test a hypothesis, gather data, and present it in an appropriate and understandable manner. According to Dr. Madden, “Michelle hopes to continue to explore the use of acoustic wave vibrations to destroy the biofilms, thereby contributing to the knowledge base that may lead to additional treatment options for these infections.”
Michelle has also been selected as a participant in the e-Mentoring Educational Partnership between Harford Community College and the C5ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat Systems, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) Center at APG. This pilot program pairs civilian professionals from the C5ISR Center with STEM students from HCC and helps students stay excited about the STEM field as well as provides additional guidance and professional mentoring outside the classroom.
Michelle also makes time to be a part of the College’s student life by being a member of Mu Alpha Theta and the Math Club. She has also served in various leadership roles for the Honors Program Student Council. And somehow she finds time to be a math/science learning assistant at the College’s Learning Center!
What Michelle found to be most impressive and influential in her experience at Harford was the faculty and staff at Harford and attributes much of her success to those who helped her along the way. Notably, Dean Pamela Pape-Lindstrom and Professor Chris Jones were key to providing Michelle with consistent accessibility and support; Assistant Professor Evan Bucklin, Assistant Professor Dr. Gene Cooper, and Assistant Professor Dr. Daniel Ford were superior mentors who offered their unique insights and inspiration along the way; Associate Professor Dr. Supawan King consistently pushed her to go above and beyond; and Jenny Jakulin, her My College Success Network advisor, proved to be instrumental to Michelle’s determination to succeed. Says Michelle, “I think the evident care present in the faculty and staff really sets it apart from other community colleges. Ultimately, being at HCC makes you a part of the family. It’s the warmth here that helps all students to grow as students and adults.” Professor Jaclyn Madden reciprocates the praise, saying “Michelle provides an example of how students can take full advantage of the opportunities at HCC, allowing them to discover and explore their fields of interest, while opening doors for their future academic and professional careers.”
Next up for Michelle? After having applied to several four-year universities to continue her studies in physics and biology, Michelle accepted admission to University of Maryland Baltimore County, and will be an intern in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the University of Kentucky. In the long term, Michelle hopes to pursue either a PhD or MD-PhD and continue in academia and research in biophysics. She also hopes to participate in STEM outreach as a mentor to other students.
Michelle’s advice to future students is to “Always embrace your inner creativity and follow your curiosities. Telling yourself you can’t do something is the one and only way to let yourself down. If there’s anything that you’re wondering about, don’t wonder anymore. Go and search for your answer. The world of the unknown can sometimes be scary, but it can also be refreshingly liberating. Usually the things we search for in the world are the things we are searching for in the deepest part of ourselves.”
Professor Chris Jones summed it up best by saying, “Michelle is a leader, a scientist, an artist, and a catalyst. She is a dedicated student with an innate capacity for science and mathematics. I enjoy working with her because she loves to learn and is curious about the ‘why’ behind concepts and theorems. Michelle has a positive, “can do” attitude and balances her various roles and responsibilities with competence and grace. I feel that she has the talent and motivation to leave a positive and substantial mark on society.”