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Major: Neuroscience and Behavior
My name is Marie Gay, and I immigrated to the United States when I was 3-years-old. When I was ten, I returned to my homeland of Las Cayes, Haiti with my parents for a visit. During this trip, I witnessed the vast deterioration of my elderly aunt, Nausta, who had grown very ill, and also began to view my homeland through new eyes. Just before boarding a plane home to the U.S., we received a call that my aunt died. It was at that moment that I realized the true effects of poverty. I vowed that I would some day return to help make a difference.
Fast forward eight years, when my journey began at Simmons. I was attracted to the College because of the small class sizes and the academic quality, the opportunity for field experience, and personalized faculty engagement. During my Animal Physiology class in my sophomore year, biology professor Dr. D. Bruce Gray encouraged me to consider taking Neurobiology. I dismissed the idea because I thought it would be too challenging. However, I began to think about it more seriously and after taking that course I declared Neuroscience and Behavior as my major, which will allow me to follow my passion of caring for people through the health field.
In that same year, through a posting on campus, I learned about a national competition open to college students to design grassroots peace-building projects. With the support of the Office of the Dean, I immediately applied for funding. As one of 100 students across the country, I received a grant to do work (and return!) to Haiti in summer 2007. I named my project Project Love, Peace, Hope, in which 12 adolescent participants were empowered to share solutions to issues in their own communities, such as health, education, and unemployment. In 2008, I was granted funding again to go back to Haiti — this time to focus on combating children illiteracy through my project Project Youth for Community Education. I designed a six-week curriculum program for 21 children on a variety of subjects and activities. As a result, I believe Haitian children’s lives have improved, and they now have more hope for their futures. I am living testament that Simmons empowers women to believe that anything is possible.
I am the first in my family to graduate from college and I look forward to fulfilling my passion of working with disadvantaged youth. I aspire to attend medical school to become a pediatrician and to work in development youth centers all across Haiti. Wherever my path may lead upon graduation, one thing is for certain: I'm grateful for Simmons for giving me the opportunity to learn, achieve and lead.