Monica Mesecar graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Behavior, as well as a minor in Compassionate Care in Medicine. Apart from being a strong student, Monica served her campus community in many ways including working as a: writer/editor for the yearbook, teacher’s assistant, psychology tutor, neuroscience program social media manager, member of the neuroscience program’s Senior Leadership Committee, and several roles within her residence hall. Most notably, she was the founder and president of the student club “Access-ABLE”—a group made up of students with disabilities and allies that seeks to promote advocacy, spread disability awareness, and build community at Notre Dame. Monica’s interest in advocacy was initially inspired by her experiences with ableism during her elementary education. Yet, she did not realize how harmful these experiences were until later in life. In light of these realizations, Monica was motivated to try to make a difference where she could, which is what led to the beginning her advocacy journey during her college career. Moreover, reflecting on these experiences are what inspired her to apply for this award. Beyond advocacy, Monica has strong interests in neuroscience, scientific research, medicine, and healthcare. Currently, she is pursuing post-baccalaureate neuroscience research at the University of Michigan and plans to apply to MD-PhD programs in the future. This dual-degree path would allow her to become a physician while also pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience. Eventually, she hopes to become a neurologist or psychiatrist, conduct neuroscience research, teach the next generation of students, and advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities—especially in both STEM-fields and medicine. In pursuit of these goals, she has already engaged in multiple research opportunities, including the University of Delaware’s specific program for students with disabilities in STEM (SELI-REU program), as well as her current program (UM PREP), which also encourages students with disabilities to apply. In addition to research, Monica has also participated in the American Association of People with Disabilities’ (AAPD) Summer Internship Program as well as the DisabilityIN Next Generation Leaders program (both during Summer 2021).
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