Graduate Spotlight: Samantha Gonski

A young woman in a graduation cap and gown stands in front of a bear statue
Samantha Gonski

Samantha Gonski, a 2022 graduate of Mercer University‘s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and Spanish.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will begin working full time as a research assistant in an allergy, pulmonary and critical care laboratory at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Who was your favorite professor and why?

Dr. Matthew Harper completely altered my life perspective in his INT 101: Understanding Self and Others course. He exposed me to many of my own implicit biases and taught me about some of the historical foundations behind the racism we see in society today. He inspired me to reach deeper within myself to actively work on repairing my own biases while empowering me with the confidence to have hard conversations with peers and family that will help all of us begin working toward equality. Dr. Harper was also always willing to help me edit or talk through things in office hours. Dr. Harper and his course changed me for the better.

What is one of your favorite Mercer memories?

Over the summer, my roommate and I lived in our four-bedroom apartment on Mercer’s campus by ourselves. One stormy night, we had both just gotten home from work, and the power was out in our loft. It remained out until the next morning, so we had to scramble with leftovers in our fridge to eat dinner. We made an assortment of bread and oil, sushi and cold Mexican and shared it together under a camping lantern. Without electricity we were able to unplug from technology and have some heart-filled conversations while sharing some laughs about our situation at hand.

What was your favorite class and why?

My favorite class was UNV 101: The First-Year Student Experience. I know this is an unusual answer, and it wasn’t the class necessarily that changed my perspective but the friendships I formed within it. As an incoming out-of-state freshman, I knew no one here; I was terrified to start over alone. Little did I know that my orientation group would give me some of my best friends. In these four years, I have gone on countless vacations across the United States with my two best friends who I met in O-Group. I was able to train as an EMT here in Macon with one of my O-Group peers who grew to become one of my great friends. I sit writing this sore after a solid workout with another one of my best friends I met in O-Group. Without UNV 101, I wouldn’t have my best Mercer memories.

How do you plan on changing the world?

Mercer has shown me that one-on-one interactions with others is the best way to change the world. Whether that is waiting an extra 10 seconds to hold open the Godsey Science Center door for someone coming up behind me or cracking a joke with a patient in the ambulance during a time of need, these small gestures are what I think change the world for the better. I plan to continue doing small acts of service in my daily interactions.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

I think everyone’s parents tell them this, and you don’t believe them until it happens, but trust me — your time here will be over in the blink of an eye. Have dance sessions to stay awake in the Tarver Library at 2 a.m. with your friends. Lose that extra hour of sleep to go on a late night Cook Out run. Take advantage of having your people live within walking distance from you while they still do.

How did Mercer prepare you for your future?

Mercer has prepared me for not only my academic future but also my professional one. My sophomore year Mercer had the Bearamedics program where I was able to become EMT certified. I have since been employed with the same company here in Macon working both 911 and medical transport calls. This program enabled me to develop life-saving and workplace skills while becoming actively involved in my local community.

What makes Mercer special to you?

Mercer’s small class sizes are what makes it special. Being able to connect one on one and have frequent access to help (whether that be professors, advisers or peers) allowed me to seek out the individualized advice or assistance I needed. I spent probably over 24 hours on Zoom with Dr. Carol Bokros this summer (thank you Dr. B); not every school has this level of commitment to its students. My education was relatively shaped to me and my specific learning needs, and my classes were small enough to where I was able to form friendships within them. Mercer’s academic and social setting is what allowed me to succeed.

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