Walking in Their Shoes

Madonna Enwe

Madonna Enwe ’16 

Before she arrived at Dickinson last year, Madonna Enwe ’16 had already moved across the globe, presented research at two collegiate conferences and earned an associate’s degree. Now, this Forney P. George Scholar and neuroscience major has a prestigious internship under her belt, and she’s continuing her research on brain injuries, with hopes of one day helping disaster victims and making information about brain injuries more readily available to patients. She’s also discovering a new love—creative writing.



Clubs and organizations:

Wheel and Chain, Pre-Health Society, Newman Club, Dickinson Christian Fellowship, Dickinson Catholic Campus Ministry, African American Society and Anwar Belly Dance Team.


Forney P. George Scholarship, Raven's Claw Society scholarship, Phi Theta Kappa, Outstanding Presenter in the Allied Health category at Beacon Conference (New York), Paul Peck Humanities Institute Library of Congress internship and Dickinson Magazine fiction contest (first place).

Favorite book:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

On choosing Dickinson:

I arrived in America in July 2011 and enrolled at Montgomery College (MC). While there, I was introduced to the Community College Partnership MC has with Dickinson. I was impressed by the individual attention Dickinson administrators and faculty gave me. My teachers played an important role in my success at MC, and I wanted the same thing for my next two years, so I chose Dickinson.

On choosing a major:

At Montgomery College, I did literature research on traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its impact on the juvenile brain, and I got the opportunity to present [my research] at collegiate conferences in Maryland and New York. After each of these conferences, people came up to me to tell me about their loved ones who have suffered from TBI, and some mothers even asked me what I thought about the contact sports their children played. Through these experiences, I learned that the study of the brain was a relatively untapped field that is of relevance to many people—and that the risk of dying from multiple concussions could be avoided if people become aware of the impact of minute damages to the brain. In the summer of 2014, I decided to major in neuroscience [so I could] learn more about the brain and be able to make the information more accessible to people.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

… First Lady Michelle Obama.

Biggest influence:

When I was 9 years old, my mother came to America to work for money to pay for tuition for my sister and I, back in Cameroon. She taught me the importance of education and hard work, especially when the motive is bigger than me. She also taught me to extend love and care to people and to carry a clean and peaceful heart every day.

Favorite learning experience:

Before coming to Dickinson, I had never written a story before—all I had were journals, in which I wrote down my experiences and lessons I learned. I took [Visiting Assistant] Professor [of English] Rebekah Linh Collinscreative writing nonfiction class, and it unleashed my desire to write. In the spring semester, I took a creative-writing and poetry class taught by [Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing] Elise Levine and Rebekah Remington. I wrote my first fiction stories and poems in those classes, and the insight and care of the professors helped me to be a better writer. I submitted my final short fiction story to the Dickinson Magazine fiction contest, and it won first place.

Professor [of English] Wendy Moffat has been a great help to me in reconciling my goals of being a writer and a medical doctor. Professor Collins is someone who knows the type of writer I want to become, and she is always ready to listen to me and provide me with resources to achieve my dreams.

Favorite professor:

When I chose neuroscience as a major, I emailed many professors at Dickinson, including [Associate Professor of Psychology] Teresa Barber. She sent me the longest reply, telling me exactly what classes I had to take and who to contact to get more help. I was impressed by the fact that before I declared my major, she advised me like I was already in the major.

She understands the sacrifices students make and how stressed we can become. She is a professor whose genuine love for her students shows. She sees potential in all of her students, and she saw it in me before I even took her class.

About my research:

This summer I will be carrying out research in neuroscience at the University of Vermont Medical School. I decided to join a lab that is working on epilepsy and cognitive impairment. In my Brain and Behavior class, taught by Teresa Barber, I learned that after a brain injury, there could be scar tissue in the brain that can be a probable site for seizures. I hope to address this with my mentor during my research experience.

In a perfect world …

… we would all “live simply, so that others might simply live.” —Mother Theresa.

About my internship:

In 2014 I participated in the Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program (SMDEP) at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. I attended sample medical-school classes in histology and biochemistry. I also shadowed doctors and attended talks from admission officials and medical professionals. My favorite event was when we had a sample “white coat ceremony.” It was an experience that made me realize how close I was to achieving my dream, and I encourage every pre-medical student to also apply for the program.

On walking in others’ shoes:

Last spring break, I participated in an Urban Plunge in Washington, D.C., organized by InterVasity Christian fellowship. My friend, Marie Noelle Nwokolo, and I were sent out into Southeast D.C. with $2 to spend for a day. We ate at a soup kitchen owned by the missionaries of charity and had conversations with the people who came to eat there. The conversations I had with these people made me discard the stereotypes I had, based on what I saw in the media. I realized that everyone has a story, and I hope to be able to share some of them.

On choosing a path:

After I graduated from high school, I was not sure about what I wanted to do in the future. My experiences at Montgomery College and Dickinson have helped me connect most of my varied interests, to develop them and to merge them into a career that will be unique to my abilities.

I hope to be a physician and a writer. As a physician, I want to work in places that have limited access to health care. I also want to write about my experiences and the amazing people I will encounter in my career. I feel that the people I will meet will have inspiring stories that many people do not know.

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Published July 15, 2015