Photo: Lee Pellegrini

Shakalah Thompson | Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Hometown: Miami Gardens, Fla.
Majors: Sociology; medical humanities minor; pre-law program

Notable Activities/Achievements: Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship winner; co-founder, SHOfA (STEM and Health Outreach for AHANA); selected for BC Global Health Perspectives program in Ecuador (not held due to pandemic); Learning to Learn Dominican Republic Service Learning and Immersion Program; Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC) Magis Civil Rights immersion trip; BAIC Bowman Advocate; Courage to Know teacher’s assistant; Caribbean Culture Club co-president; Mendel Society mentee.

Post-Graduation Plans: Law school, following a gap year.

More:  A native of Jamaica, Thompson describes her Boston College experience as transformative: Her years at the Heights have released aspects of herself that allowed her to reach her full potential. Her extracurricular and academic pursuits have unlocked new levels of depth, compassion, strength, confidence, and leadership qualities—reflected in her selection last year for the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, which honors superior academic achievement, extracurricular leadership, community service, and involvement with the African American community and African American issues. She has made great strides in learning to be fearless, unrelenting, and unapologetic about going after her dreams.

How has Boston College made a difference in your life?

BC has taught me the importance of reflection and taking the time to be still and actually listen to the signs that God reveals in my life every day. The quality of my life, thoughts, and perceptions have improved greatly since I have incorporated this into my spiritual routine.

How have your studies here prepared you for the future?

My academic experiences have taught me the importance of following my genuine interests and keeping an open mind in regards to my true purpose. Starting off as a sociology major on a pre-med track made me privy to the socioeconomic issues that impact health care outcomes for marginalized groups, which can also be traced back to academic disparities. This realization gave me the inspiration to co-found my organization, which subsequently unveiled my passions for advocacy and pushed me towards a pre-law path instead.

You mentioned the organization you helped start, SHOfA. What was it like to help get it going, and what have been some of the highlights?

Getting the organization established required a lot of tireless consistency and dedication, especially after transitioning to virtual interactions due to the pandemic. The founding team [Chelsey Skeete '20, Yojana Thapa '20, Amaya Powis '21, and Alexa Bautista '21] and I were constantly meeting as a group and with faculty and administrators to fine-tune our initiatives and create a solid framework that would uphold our mission. As a result, we have launched an in-organization tutoring program, an alumni mentorship program, and have hosted several events, all of which are accessible to BC students and meant to support our underrepresented STEM and pre-health community. We are also grateful to have received a Legacy Grant, which will allow us to better nurture our tutoring program with useful technology in the fall and beyond. We anticipate launching our Peer Mentorship Program via Canvas this fall.

Who have been some of the most influential people you’ve known at BC?

Some of the most impactful individuals I have known during my time at BC include, but are certainly not limited to, [BAIC Director] Michael Davidson, S.J.; [African and African Diaspora Studies Program Assistant Director] Richard Paul; [MCAS Associate Dean and Pre-Health Program Director] Rafael Luna; [Biology Department Associate Director] Dina Goodfriend; and [BAIC Senior Assistant Director] Joana Maynard. In their own ways, each of these individuals have shown me what it means to truly be advocated for, and have gone out of their way support, encourage, and uplift me.

What experiences at Boston College have had the most significant impact on you and why?

I believe that participating in the LTL Dominican Republic Service and Immersion trip changed me fundamentally as a person. Coming from Jamaica, a similar island in the West Indies, the experience of being immersed in the DR allowed me to see my roots and my parents’ roots through a different lens. It made me even more grateful for the opportunities I have and assured me that I needed to use my mind, heart, and voice to make a difference in this world.

What will you miss most?

I will miss all of the genuine people I have grown close to. I know that we will still remain close and that they will always be dear to me, but not being in close proximity to the loved ones I have here will be difficult.

What advice would you give to incoming BC students?

Always be genuine to yourself. It takes time and self-reflection to understand what that completely means, but once you do and as you do, never variate from being your authentic self, unapologetically. It’s always the right thing to do, even when external factors attempt to make you think otherwise.

Rosanne Pellegrini | University Communications | May 2021

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