Senior Spotlight: Michelle Gitau

MichelleWhat is one of your favorite memories from UMass? 
One of my favorite memories has to be my friends surprising me with a cake at midnight on my birthday freshman year. 

How has UMass allowed for your intellectual/academic/creative abilities to flourish?
I think there are so many clubs to be involved in that I have gotten involved with allowing me to express myself from fashion to faith and even academic based clubs. I found being in the BioPioneers RAP my freshman year to be extremely helpful as well as it gave me people who supported and challenged me as friends and professors that put me on the right path. 

How did your experiences in a club, activity, or academic field shape who you are today?
I have met so many people through all the clubs and activities I am involved in and I cannot ever thank each and every one of them enough! Shoutout to Soul TV, SNMA-MAPS, Black Women in Medicine, UMass B.A.S.I.C, UMass Gospel Choir, Insanely Prestigious StepTeam, Student Bridges, Grayson/Field Staff, and BioPioneers class of 2023. Everyone I have met through these groups has challenged me to be better and to work harder than I have ever worked before. I’ve learned how to communicate with others more efficiently, stand up for myself, get things done with short deadlines, be more adaptable and just become more myself in all ways possible. I think these groups allowed me to come out of my shell and be comfortable with my own personality in every way. 

Who is someone who motivated you during your time at UMass? (Shout Out!)
Shoutout to my amazing advisors Dr. Linda Ziegenbein (from the CNS diversity department /BioPioneers), Cathy Eden (from the pre-med department), and Dr. Lori Best (from the psychology department) for being such amazing human beings and guides throughout my college experience. I think a huge reason I am able to graduate a year early is because of their guidance and support. Also a huge shoutout to all my friends, party central, BioPioneers, and my family for all their endless support as well. And a special shout out to my friend Randy for always pushing me to be better and reminding me that I can do anything I put my mind to and encouraging me to graduate early. 

What advice would you give to incoming UMass students? 
I would say use your first year to try everything. Your first month try to make sure you don’t get carried away with your new found freedom and independence and make sure to prioritize your school work so that way you create good habits before you start exploring. Have fun and put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to join a club and quit if you don’t like it. Don’t be afraid to talk to the person next to you in class, don’t be afraid to reach out to the professor or TAs for help. Make sure to choose friends who challenge and support you because who you hang out with sometimes can make or break your college experience. Stay away from drama if you can help it! Go to SI sessions if a class offers them!! And more importantly breathe, you do belong here and you are enough, don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

What is your biggest takeaway from UMass? 
I think my biggest takeaway would be that even in such a huge school with such a huge campus you always find your “people”. Another thing would be don’t ever hesitate to pursue an opportunity, no matter how unqualified you may feel. 

What is next for you? 
Next, I will be working for Kaleidoscope ABA Therapy services in Worcester as I prepare my application for medical school.