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Priscilla Villanola ’19

Bachelor of Science in Biology: Biochemistry

Priscilla Villanola ’19 would be the first to admit to you that she is quiet and shy.  

A graduate of Chicopee High School, a large public school, she knew when it came time to select a college it had to be one that she could manage.  At a large college or university, she would drown. She would fall to the wayside. In her mind, she knew that she wouldn’t be noticed. Priscilla wanted a college experience that offered small class sizes where the professors would see her as herself.

It wasn’t difficult for Priscilla to make the decision to come to Bay Path.

A biochemistry major, she dived into the sciences.  Under the mentorship of Dr. Yadilette Rivera-Colon, she worked as a research assistant in the Bay Path laboratories.  Soon, she became a peer mentor helping other students with the laboratory projects, and supervised study sessions.

In time, Priscilla became a Stern Scholar and was inducted into the Honors Program.

All this laid the groundwork for an opportunity that would help define her future.  Dr. Rivera-Colon encouraged Priscilla to apply to the Amgen Scholars Program. This prestigious, nationwide program is held at 24 top-ranked research universities throughout the country, and invites a small number of students to participate.

In 2019, the Amgen Scholar program accepted Priscilla and she spent the summer at Duke University.  For 10 weeks, she was able to conduct research, analyze data, present findings, and, most important, network with other budding scientists.  Incredibly, the Amgen Program pays for all housing and food expenses. Priscilla even received a stipend. This opportunity was an impressive resume builder!

In Priscilla’s words, “Four years ago this would have been unthinkable.  I have found that I love working in a research lab and this is my future.”

Like many at Bay Path, Priscilla is a first-generation student.  Her mother and family are so proud of her accomplishments. However, there is more to Priscilla’s story.

With Dr. Rivera-Colon’s encouragement, Priscilla applied to several graduate programs.  Although Priscilla is still waiting to hear from several programs, she is leaning towards the PhD program in biochemistry, microbiology, and molecular biology at Penn State, where she has already been accepted. 

Priscilla was always a good student waiting to be truly noticed.  At Bay Path, Priscilla was able to shine. Now, she is ready to show the world what she can do.  Who knows? This budding research scientist may be on the front line of the next health challenge we all face.

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