Organic Chemistry Professor Cynthia Brewer draws chemical symbols on the board describing the lab assignment for the day. She turns and asks the class of 16 students what compound will result. The first student to speak up is sophomore biochemistry major Maribel Okiye. “NH3, ammonia,” she calls out from her lab bench station in McCort-Ward Hall.
Okiye, a pre-med student from the Virgin Islands, is determined to do well at Catholic University so she can pursue her dream of working for Doctors Without Borders providing health care in developing countries. “If you’re not passionate about your major, it’s hard to do well with it,” she says. Small classes and supportive faculty members like Brewer bolster Okiye’s efforts to succeed.
Okiye has learned to view biochemistry through the lens of service -- a significant part of a Catholic University education. “Biochemistry offers so many ways to work for the betterment of humanity – through health care, research and environmental science,” she says. Okiye, who also has a part-time job as a radiology assistant at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, says, “I love helping people, and being part of a community knowing that I am making a difference.”
"Catholic promotes extending your hand farther as a human being, taking that extra step to help others."
Okiye has made a big difference in less than two years at Catholic University. She is the founder and president of Cardinal Red Cross. The organization has 47 members and plans for upcoming service projects both on and off campus. “Catholic teaching promotes volunteerism, caring for your brother and sister,” she says.
Brewer observes those values in class. “Okiye’s a team player and tries to help everyone have a successful experience,” Brewer says. “She has a truly friendly and generous nature.”
For Okiye, dedication to her major, her career goals, and her faith blend at Catholic University, where she is challenged to cultivate a Catholic Mind that puts science at the service of human dignity.
“Catholic University promotes extending your hand farther as a human being, taking that extra step to help others,” Okiye says. “You are constantly being reminded that there are people in the world who are not as fortunate as you are.”