Current Scholar Spotlight: Deja Rush

Deja Rush leaning against a treeLSAMP Scholar

Rank: Sophomore
Major: Biomedical engineering with a minor in
Spanish and music
Graduation date: 2020

What motivated you to become a part of LSAMP?

I knew I wanted to be a part of a STEM-based minority program at The Ohio State University. Within STEM, there is a lack of cultural competency. So, I believed it was critical for me to be involved in a program with people who can relate to me and my experiences at an institution which is comprised of only about 20% minorities. Also, I believed it was a good way to connect with other minorities who would be taking similar classes.

What opportunities have you had at Ohio State because of LSAMP and ODI that you might not have had otherwise?

Because of LSAMP and ODI, I have been able to fully fund my education and focus on having the ultimate college experience. I have been able to succeed academically because I have had access to resources such as private tutoring and 1:1 success coaching. I have also had the opportunity to improve my portfolio by expanding my network and getting involved in research.

What can you share about your research, and why had you selected that area of study?

I am involved in a cancer research lab in the department of biomedical engineering. I chose this area of research because I am a cancer survivor. My own battle has inspired me and motivated me to make a difference and help find a cure.

What challenges have you experienced as an underrepresented student in STEM? As a woman?

I believe I have had to work harder in order to prove to my peers that I belong and that I am just as capable as they are.          

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to attend medical school and become a doctor in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

What advice would you like to give to future LSAMP scholars?

I would advise them to take advantage of everything that LSAMP has to offer. Stay connected with your mentors, attend conferences and network and be honest about areas you could improve in and then make a change.


Prior Spotlights

Demetrice Allen Spotlight

Demetrice Allen Spotlight

Demetrice Allen excelled in high school as a gifted debater but coming from a single parent home and attending a Wisconsin high school that was in the bottom tier posed some challenges. “I didn’t have exposure to many different careers, so my background was so crucial to me being where I am today.” Demetrice’s journey to where he is today was one of new interests. Read more on Demetrice Allen.

Nima Dahir Spotlight

Nima Dahir Spotlight

Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Nima Dahir’s curiosity stemmed from her involvement in service and diversity activities in high school. “I was in the Student Council, was the president of the Interact Club, an organization dedicated to community service, and was a member of groups that focused on increasing understanding of diversity throughout the school,” said Nima. The same passion she had for service translated to her educational studies. Read more on Nima Dahir.

Shelby Newsad Spotlight

Shelby Newsad Spotlight

A love for nature is what inspired Shelby Newsad (pictured on right) to major in biochemistry. “I’m a very curious person at heart who adores nature and the outdoors. I took organic chemistry my sophomore year and fell in love with the illumination of life it brings. Understanding the natural world has always been an interest of mine, but with biochemistry it has become my career,” said Shelby. Read more on Shelby Newsad.

Kenneth White, Jr. Spotlight

Kenneth White, Jr. Spotlight

After graduating in 1995 with a BA in Mathematics from Wayne State University, Kenneth White, Jr. knew that he wanted to continue his education, with the ultimate goal of obtaining a PhD. He had heard that only about 1% of the population has a PhD, and he added, “Being a black male, I wanted a PhD to be a mentor in terms of educational attainment.” Read more on Kenneth White, Jr.

Carlos Mendez Spotlight

Carlos Mendez Spotlight

Born to parents who emigrated from Puerto Rico to America, Carlos Mendez often struggled with his identity and belonging and found himself wondering how to succeed academically and socially. But with the help of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s (ODI) LASER program, Carlos found a place where he can relate to people just like him, and he wasted no time getting involved. Read more on Carlos Mendez.

Da’Quan Knuckles Spotlight

Da’Quan Knuckles Spotlight

Da’Quan Knuckles believes in making a difference. “I just want to give back to my community and to the people who helped me. Without my community and family, I wouldn't be here,” he stated. This past January, Da’Quan was honored for his community work with the “Youth: Capturing the Vision of Dr. King” award presented at the 30th Annual Commemorative Celebration sponsored by the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission. Read more on Da'Quan Knuckles.

Korrie Johnson Spotlight

Korrie Johnson Spotlight

Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, Korrie Johnson had plenty of support from family and friends. “I had people who looked like me to serve as role models, give me support and tell me that I was going to do great things.” So when Korrie made the decision to pursue a PhD, he knew that it would be very important for any university he chose to have an active diversity unit. Read more on Korrie Johnson.

Martín Pérez Spotlight

Martín Pérez Spotlight

As a Latino, Martín Pérez understands the issues that many underrepresented students can face and the need for a community of like-minded individuals who want to celebrate and educate others on different ethnicities. As a first-generation college student, Martín also understands the value of an education, a viewpoint, he says, that’s summed up by the Kofi Annan quote, “Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” Read more.

Brandon Blackwell Spotlight

Brandon Blackwell Spotlight

Student athletes often can face some hurdles when pursuing their college degree. Whether it’s trying to maintain good grades or practicing for a sport at which they excel, taking full advantage of the resources available from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) can alleviate some of the pressure of being a college student. Read more.

Alejandra Maíz Spotlight

Alejandra Maíz Spotlight

Conducting breast cancer research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is just one way that Alejandra Maíz has used the knowledge she gained in the classroom, working together with her lab group and expanding on those ideas. A junior studying molecular genetics – an area that interests her because of the inheritance patterns of traits and diseases – Alejandra is also using her skills by volunteering at La Clínica Latina, a free clinic held by Ohio State’s College of Medicine for Spanish-speaking individuals that provides on-going, comprehensive healthcare. Read more.


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