So when she began studying anatomy and physiology in Lowell, Mass., (where she moved during her high school years), Simunyu felt pulled to the materials. “I began to develop a passion for understanding the chemistry and biology of disease,” says the Posse Scholar and biochemistry major. Last summer, she participated in a program in Kentucky that allowed her to get a glimpse of medical school, including the opportunity to shadow a doctor. And she made some discoveries about herself during the process. “I realized that I’m interested in research rather than treating patients. It is the science behind these treatments that interests me.”
Joe Reczek, an assistant professor of chemistry and her advisor, thought Simunyu would be an ideal candidate for the UNCF Merck Science Initiative Scholarship, a $25,000 award given each year to 15 outstanding African-American undergraduate students across the country. And he was right. Simunyu was the first Denison student to be awarded the prestigious scholarship, which comes with the opportunity for a paid summer internship at one of a dozen research facilities throughout the country.
During her internship, Simunyu plans to research metabolic diseases with the hope of someday affecting a patient’s treatment options—and life—from the lab.