NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces that this year’s recipient of the “29 Who Shine” award is Grace Ngobo Toko Mbonda ’16, a biology and chemistry major from Brockton who aspires to attend medical school after her graduation from MCLA this Saturday.

Mbonda, who was recognized in Boston on Monday in a State House awards ceremony, aspires to provide medical care to young girls and women. This desire stems from her experiences growing up in Cameroon in Central Africa, where she saw the negative consequences of inadequate health care and a lack of sexual health care education as she worked alongside her mother, who is a midwife.

She particularly is interested in pursuing cancer research specific to the field of gynecology, as well as sickle cell anemia and tropical diseases such as malaria. Mbonda recently participated in MCLA’s Annual Undergraduate Research Conference with her chemistry project, which centered on thermoregulation of virulence genes in Escherichia coli.

In addition to earning dean’s list honors, academic scholarships and recognitions, Mbonda is a two-time recipient of the ALANA Academic Achievement Award. A member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society, she is involved in numerous campus organizations, and holds several leadership positions.

In addition to her membership in the Black Student Union and the Ski Club, she has served on the executive boards of the Biology Club, the African Student Association, and the ALANA Club Council. As a student co-facilitator of Campus Conversations on Race, Mbonda leads conversations with her peers on race and ethnicity that address societal change, and provides guidance on methods to explore and understand the underpinnings of race relations.

Each year, “29 Who Shine” recognizes 29 outstanding student graduates from across the Commonwealth’s public higher education system. Each year the Governor honors the “29 Who Shine” at an awards ceremony at the Massachusetts State House. Approximately 250 invited guests attend the event, including House and Senate leaders, the Secretary of Education, Commissioner of Higher Education, members of the Board of Higher Education, college presidents, chancellors, business and non-profit leaders, students and their families.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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