Fifth in a Series Introducing Wellesley's 2012 Graduates
Hometown: Sekondi, Ghana
Michelle’s family is originally from Liberia. Many of her loved ones became refugees in Ghana to escape the tragedies of the Liberian civil wars. In Ghana, she said she realized how fortunate Americans are to have access to health care and trained medical professionals in the United States. She volunteered at the Caring for Tomorrow's Generation orphanage in Buchanan, Liberia, which, in addition to her work at Wellesley, has motivated her desire to become a world leader in health care. Michelle will start a joint MD/PhD program this fall and, after medical school, she hopes to drive the establishment of community healthcare facilities and policies (especially in psychiatry) in Liberia.
Michelle’s neuroscience research at Wellesley looks at how estrogen binds to membranes on the exterior of the cells, which, among other areas, may have implications for cancer research. Additionally, Michelle is a math tutor in Wellesley’s METCO tutoring program (METCO is Boston-area voluntary desegregation program aimed to increase diversity in suburban school districts); she works with fourth-grade METCO students and has been involved with the program since its inception in 2010.
Q&A with Michelle Corkrum
What will you miss most about being a student at Wellesley?
I will miss the support network at Wellesley. During my time here, I had access to all the resources I needed academically, professionally, and personally. For example, the Pforzheimer Learning and Teaching Center (PLTC) was one of my favorite places my first year. I always took my essays to a writing tutor for edits before turning them in, and the PLTC also had a lot of great workshops and handouts on procrastination prevention techniques, time management skills, and stress reduction methods. The professors at Wellesley were also a great resource for me. I felt as though they wanted us to succeed, and even though their classes were challenging, they were always available to help during office hours, and before and after class lectures. Professionally, I valued the Center for Work and Service (CWS) as a resource. Through the CWS, I was able to participate in an internship every summer during my Wellesley career. My first summer, I participated in a research program at the University of Minn.; my second summer, I volunteered at the Wesley Woods Health Center in Atlanta, Ga.; and during my third summer, I participated in the science center research program at Wellesley. At a personal level, I truly appreciate my friends; I know that I have made life-long friends that will be there for me every step of the way.
Where's your favorite place on campus?
I love Harambee house. I know that every time I go there I will see familiar faces that are either willing to study or take a study break with me.
How have you changed since you first came to Wellesley?
I have gained a greater appreciation for the different cultures that make up our world. Talking to my friends in the dining halls or new students at the beginning of the school year always made me realize how unique everyone’s experiences were. We all ended up at Wellesley, but the paths that we took to get here and the careers that we will pursue after Wellesley are extremely diverse. I realized that there are a lot of different and innovative ways to promote positive change and make a difference in our world.
What are your plans after graduation?
I will start a joint MD/PhD program this fall at the University of Minnesota.
Is there a particular person or group who's made a difference during your time here?
Professor Joy Renjilian-Burgy was one of my first mentors at Wellesley. I took her Spanish 241 class my first semester. She was everything I hoped a Wellesley professor would be. Joy was extremely enthusiastic about the course material and very supportive of her students. After taking her class, I kept in touch with her and my sophomore year she became my Mellon Mays advisor. I value my relationship with Joy because she encouraged me to pursue anything that I had an interest in, and she never doubted my ability to accomplish any of my goals at Wellesley.
Any other reflections you'd like to share?
I know without a doubt that Wellesley was the best undergraduate institution for me.