Author: Gigi Speer, sophomore
The Senior Spotlight Series is an opportunity for Rose Hill Honors students to interview their peers in the Program and share the conversations with the broader community.
For this article, Gigi Speer, a current sophomore in the Program, interviewed graduating senior, Onjona Hossain. Onjona is a biology and philosophy double major in the Honors Program. She is currently preparing for medical school and has a plethora of different achievements. I interviewed her to learn more about these accomplishments, in addition to the many other things she’s done with her time here at Fordham.
Gigi: What has been your favorite Honors memory?
Onjona: My favorite Honors memory is the freshman Scavenger Hunt in Central Park. As a native New Yorker, I had no idea about all the different sights to see at Central Park and so it was nice to finally get to explore my city. It was also a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and spend the day with other Honors students who I had never spoken to before. It was also fun because I love competition and this event brought out all of our competitiveness.
Gigi: What has been your best internship or volunteer experience while at Fordham?
Onjona: Through International Samaritan, a non-profit, Jesuit organization, I volunteered as an EMT in Guatemala on a medical mission the summer after my freshmen year. As a volunteer, I helped organize a makeshift clinic including a triaging station, physician consult area, pharmacy, and distribution center. I also spent time as a medical scribe to Guatemalan and American physicians to improve efficiency. This allowed me to learn from two unique cultural and practical approaches to medicine. My time in Guatemala reignited my passion to provide medical care to those underserved and taught me that basic treatments can make huge impacts on others’ wellbeing and health. I was so inspired my trip, I began a subchapter of International Samaritan at Fordham for other students to participate in.
I also really enjoyed my Patient Advocacy Volunteer in Emergency Research Services (PAVERS) internship. As a patient advocate for the Emergency Department at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital, I aided physicians and nurses in patient transport and care, observed initial assessment of patients in the ER and interacted with patients as they awaited treatment. When I wasn’t making beds, distributing blankets and food, I found myself engaging in conversations with patients about not only their complaints and illnesses but also their personal lives and backgrounds, which not surprisingly often influenced the reasons for which they were seeking care.
Gigi: What have you enjoyed getting involved in on-campus at Fordham?
For the second straight year, I am the Editor-in-Chief of the Fordham Undergraduate Research Journal (FURJ). After being a Peer Review Staff member and Peer Review Editor, I wanted to become Editor-in-Chief to channel my creativity and take initiative in sharing research and knowledge. In 2018, I became the first junior to become Editor-in-Chief of FURJ and, under my leadership, this year FURJ published two volumes in print for the first time, a testament to its growing demand.
I am also the President of the Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students (MAPS). MAPS increases minority matriculation into professional health-related programs. Through my leadership role in MAPS, I solidified my commitment to encouraging diversity in the health professions. I always admired diversity of health professionals, but now I actively promote and increase it.
Gigi: How have you grown as a person throughout your time in the Honors Program?
Onjona: Majoring in biology was an easy choice, but it was not until my second semester in the Honors Program that I chose to add a major in philosophy. Ancient Philosophy was my most difficult course, but I felt intellectually challenged, and I knew discomfort meant that I was learning. I chose philosophy to further enrich my perspective on the world and to question my pre-existing ideas. In addition, being part of the Honors Program allowed me to explore courses in the humanities as they relate to all topics, even medicine. Reading authors like James Baldwin helped me recognize my passion for literature. I make the most of my Jesuit education at Fordham through leadership, volunteer work, discourse, and giving back. At Fordham, I reaffirmed my passion for medicine and am becoming the best version of myself. The Jesuits emphasize education and commitment to giving back to the underserved. I carry out this mission as I serve my community as an EMT on campus, a peer mentor for freshmen at the pre-health symposium, and as an educator at Khan’s Tutorial. I hope to practice patient-centered care with the mission of relieving human suffering which is in line with the Jesuit tradition of Cura Personalis and caring for the whole person. In my career as a physician, I will continue to be a woman for others and cultivate the Jesuit values and traditions of service through discovery, wisdom and education. At Fordham, I learned the importance of self-reflection and caring for the whole individual, qualities I will continue to cultivate as a practicing physician.
Gigi: Which Honors professor made the biggest impact on you?
Onjona: Professor Mary Callaway made a great impact on me because she changed the way I viewed my entire college education and experience. She taught me that college doesn’t just give us the tools to engage in civil discourse and live a successful life, but this is exactly what life is all about, engaging in civil discourse with others whether it be in an interdisciplinary seminar or a casual conversation with a peer. It changed my perspective on my education. College was not merely a stepping stone, but an end in its own right.
Gigi: What will you miss most about Honors?
Onjona: I will miss Alpha House the most. As a commuter, I really appreciated having 24/7 access to Alpha. I remember on overnight FUEMS shifts, I would camp out in Alpha House. It’s always nice to intermingle with other Honors kids there as well.
Gigi: Is there anyone you would like to shoutout?
Onjona: I would like to give a shoutout to Honors Program Director Dr. Eve Keller for seeing potential in me from even before we officially met.