Carnegie Mellon University
June 01, 2023

Veronique Wright Wins Gilman Award

By Heidi Opdyke

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Marketing and Communication, MCS
  • 412-268-9982

Recent Carnegie Mellon University alumna Veronique Wright has a sharp focus on a future as a surgeon, and four years of coursework, research and outreach has honed that passion.

"I chose to apply to CMU because of its extremely talented, challenging and interdisciplinary academic environment," she said when she was a first-year student. Wright graduated May 13 with a bachelor's of science degree in biological sciences and psychology with a minor in health care policy and management. "However, I chose to attend CMU because of the warm and inclusive social environments and traditions that I saw when I visited campus, as well as the deep passion the professors and staff had for the work they did and knowing that attending would allow me the opportunity to be a part of such a community with my own passions."

Wright excelled in advanced courses that encompassed a breadth of fields within biology, psychology, biomedical engineering and public policy. A member of Carnegie Mellon's Health Professional Program and the Doctors of Carnegie Society, Wright enthusiastically pursued knowledge to support her surgical ambitions, potentially focusing on the brain.

"Becoming a neurologist was a possibility for my future specialty. It is an amazing area to allow me to put my combined major of biological sciences and psychology to use," Wright said.

During the summer of 2022 she was applied what she learned at CMU while shadowing specialists during surgeries and patient consultations, and volunteering in the maternity ward during a summer abroad program in Rabat, Morocco. That experience, which was supported by the Jennings Family Brave Companions Fund, solidified her interest in medicine.

"Traveling abroad was important for me because I got to experience a different culture with access to limited medical resources and observe the ways in which they best utilized and allocated those limited resources to best serve their community," Wright said. "It was important to witness a different healthcare system and compare it to that of the U.S. to gain insight into things that were globally as opposed to locally broken, allowing for other communities to be used as examples to fix local system problems and for global problems to be addressed as such."

This summer, she plans to use a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to visit Chile. Wright said an advantage to being exposed to new cultures is that the experience offers a wider and more open-minded perspective in how engaging with people from all backgrounds.

At Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus, Wright was a member of the first cohort of Tartan Scholars, an initiative that provides leadership and mentorship workshops for students from limited resource backgrounds to become effective changemakers in the Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh community. She took full advantage of the program's opportunities.

"Being a Tartan Scholar meant belonging to an incredible group of individuals, all unique and passionate in different ways, who refused to let the limitations of their backgrounds prohibit them from recognizing, striving, and achieving their fullest potential," Wright said. "It pushed me out of my comfort zone to embrace new perspectives and adventures and gave me this feeling of belongingness at CMU that allowed me to discredit any doubt in my ability and presence within the CMU community. The Tartan Scholar Program made me believe that despite my limited resource background, I had every right to be a CMU student and provided me with the necessary resources and support to excel as one."

She returned the favor through mentoring first-year students at Carnegie Mellon as a Tartan Scholar Ambassador and she serving as the leader of all Tartan Scholar Ambassadors for two years.

Carrie Doonan, a teaching professor of biological sciences and the MCS director of undergraduate laboratories, called Wright a quiet force who offered grounded and positive perspectives to those around her.

"Veronique had really great communication skills and worked so well with her lab mates," Doonan said. "I could pair her up with anyone and she was always willing to step up and help a lab partner."

A graduate of the Mellon College of Science Leadership Development Seminar, Wright has served as a role model and leader in many capacities such as serving on the MCS Student Advisory Council and organizing alternative spring break service trips to Louisiana, Texas and Florida. During the pandemic, she also volunteered for H.O.O.D. by packing care packages for organizations serving people in need of resources for COVID-19 such as food, masks, hand sanitizer and vitamins.

For all of her efforts she is one of this year's recipients of the Mellon College of Science Gilman Award, which is presented to MCS seniors each year for their commitment to the MCS Core Education. Amy Germer, who double majored in physics and mathematical sciences, also won a Gilman Award this year.

Wright's next stop will be Boston, where she will work as a clinical research assistant at the Boston Children's Hospital Department of Cardiology for a two-year fellowship.

"Being able to interact with pediatric patients and assist with research related to juvenile disease will allow me to continue to pursue an interest I developed at Carnegie Mellon and set me up for applying to medical schools," Wright said.

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