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Undergraduate research pays off for WSSU class of 2017

Members of Winston-Salem State University’s newest graduating class have new opportunities to go along with their new degrees.

Faculty-mentored research is helping Winston-Salem State University undergraduates get a head start as they continue their education or transition into the job market.

Here are a few examples to illustrate the importance of pursuing undergraduate research. You’ll also learn where they’re headed next.

Lanazha Belfield

  • Major: Biology with a minor in physics
  • Hometown: Rocky Mount
  • About her WSSU experience: Belfield worked with Assistant Professor of Physics Tennille D. Presley on analyzing the effect of acute heat and exercise on the biophysical parameters associated with Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • Next step: Continue her research, pursuing a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Bioscience at Wake Forest University.
Quote: “My research career at WSSU has been an amazing opportunity for me to travel and find what career path that I wanted to pursue.”


Beverly Dosso

  • Major: Chemistry
  • Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland
  • About her WSSU experience: Dosso studied with Dr. Azeez Aileru, director of MARC U*STAR, a federally-funded program that aims to nurture undergraduates for scientific research careers. Her research focused on neuroscience and hypertension.
  • Next step: Continue her research, pursuing a Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest University.
Quote:“I can’t stress enough the importance of undergraduate research.”


Taylor Evans

  • Major: Special Education
  • Hometown: Fayetteville
  • About her WSSU experience: At WSSU, Evans worked closely with Dr. Lynn Zubov on a research project that focused on using exercise balls as classroom chairs for students.
  • Next step: Evans, a third-generation education major, has completed her student teaching and is weighing several offers to teach special education.
  • Quote: “Winston-Salem State University provided me with a plethora of opportunities. I will forever be grateful, and I will never forget the impact that this university has had and will always have on me.”

 Zipporah Foster

  • Major: Psychology
  • Hometown: Durham
  • About her WSSU experience: This year, Foster presented at six regional and national conferences. She partnered with Professor Amber DeBono on research. Their research on the influence of perception on student athletes’ motivation and relationship with coaches was published in an academic journal earlier this year.
  • Next step: Will pursue her master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University
  • Quote: “Take a risk to get out of your comfort zone.”


Eric Pridgen

  • Major: Mathematics
  • Hometown: Jersey City, New Jersey
  • About his WSSU experience: Worked on mathematical research with Dr. Mark Hunnell and also worked on projects related to bioinformatics with Dr. Xiuping Tao. His research was supported through the MARC U*STAR program.
  • Next step: Will attend Columbia University to obtain a master’s degree in applied analytics through the HBCU Fellowship.
  • Quote: “The domain of WSSU is infinite and that has been one of the most rewarding parts. I have built a foundation that is solid, and I will humbly need more improvement to make the most profound impact in the world. I am thankful for my WSSU and HBCU experience.”

Kiana Rushdan

  • Major: Biology
  • Hometown: High Point
  • About her WSSU experience: Rushdan, the 2016-17 Miss Winston-Salem State University, worked with Dr. Mesia Steed to analyze innate expression and activity of matrix metalloproteinases in the isolated abdominal aorta during hypertension. In other words, high BP.
  • Next step: Plans to pursue a master’s degree in bioethics and go to medical school.
  • Quote: “I’ve learned soft skills through research that I can take anywhere in life, even corporate.”

Victoria Sedwick

  • Major: Chemistry
  • Hometown: Indianapolis
  • About her WSSU experience: She transferred to WSSU as a junior from Fisk University. Through the MARC U*Star program, she partnered with research mentor Dr. A. Barkarr Kanu, assistant professor of chemistry. “He made sure we knew how to work every instrument as well as understand the theory behind them.” Her research helped develop a method to distinguish fire starters from one another in gas chromatography. A publication is in the works.
  • Next step: Will continue her research in the Medical Sciences Ph.D. Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
  • Quote: “There’s research everywhere, not just WSSU, but downtown at Piedmont Triad Community Research Center (PTCRC), the hospitals and Wake Forest. We have access, and all we have to do is ask.


 Alex Sumner

  • Major: Computer Science
  • Hometown: Raleigh
  • About his WSSU experience: At WSSU, Sumner was paired with Dr. Mustafa Atay on research projects. He also completed an internship at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. As chapter president of Phi Beta Sigma, he gained knowledge about leadership and community outreach.
  • Next step: Plans to continue his education at North Carolina A&T State University in computer science.
  • Quote: “I’ve never been the most outgoing person, and I’m still not, but I have come so far from when I first arrived at WSSU.”

Anthony Wells

  • Major: Marketing
  • Hometown: Charlotte
  • About his WSSU experience: At WSSU, he worked closely with Dr. Derick Virgil, associate dean for Academic Services and Assessment, to track the perception of HBCUs among high school students. He also had the opportunity to study abroad in Brazil and the Dominican Republic, study at Harvard University Business School and work as a marketing intern at Eli Lilly and Co.
  • Next step: Plans to join AllianceBernstein as a private wealth consultant in New York City.
  • Quote: “WSSU is a microcosm of the world that truly enables the student to grow into the best version of themselves. I am a direct representation of the change that takes place once you enter the arches of WSSU.”


 Micalyne Zimmerman

  • Major: Computer Science
  • Hometown: Charlotte
  • About her WSSU experience: Zimmerman, a distance runner for WSSU’s track and field program, had the opportunity to be part of two research programs under Dr. Elva Jones in the area of robotics. She also completed the BB&T Leadership Institute program.
  • Next step: Will pursue a career in web development. Zimmerman has a summer internship with Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, in application development.
  • Quote: “A STEM career is very challenging but opens up a variety of opportunities to discover what is best for you.”

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