Alumni Story

June 2015

Ann “Cassy” Anselme ’15

For Ann “Cassy” Anselme, the road to Saint Leo was a life-changing one. She grew up in Haiti, an only child, living with her mother in Port-au-Prince. After a devastating earthquake struck the country in January 2010, she moved to the United States. Having pursued her education in Haiti, a country where people from the working class aspire for their kids to become medical doctors, lawyers, accountants, or engineers, and having excelled in courses such as biology, mathematics, and physics, she instinctively decided that she should major in biology and become a pediatrician. However, she was pleasantly surprised by the many other fulfilling career paths available to those who pursue a degree in biology.

Cassy Anselme presentingFrom the very beginning of her time at Saint Leo, Cassy made it a priority to get involved both in the classroom and in the community. During her first semester, she was introduced to CREST (Connecting Researchers, Educators, and Students)—lead by Dr. Audrey Shor—which allowed her to participate in research throughout her entire college career. Through that research involvement, she had the opportunity to present at conferences in Milwaukee, San Diego, and in Boston. She was also inducted into the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society at the Experiment Biology Conference, and into Tri Beta Biology Honor Society. For three consecutive summers, she served as a Biology Bootcamp mentor, as well as a lab assistant for three and a half years. In the summer of 2014, she attended a competitive workshop at the University of New Hampshire on Bioinformatics and Biodiversity. She also participated in many biology outreach initiatives for elementary, middle, and high school in the San Antonio and Tampa, FL, community.

As part of her Honors Program apprenticeship, Cassy started a Circle K International chapter at Saint Leo University. Always eager to serve the community, she was a member of the San Antonio Relay for Life committee for two years and later served as the Saint Leo Up ’Til Dawn logistics chairperson and the executive director. She spent many hours volunteering at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, and during spring break 2015, she was the student leader for a SERVE trip to Memphis, to Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Cassy credits her collegiate success to some wise decision making. One of those decisions occurred on her first day of classes, when she made it a priority to visit Dr. Darin Bell, her advisor, to discuss her future career plans with him. “I wanted to know what options would be available to me after I graduated,” she explains. “I could easily describe this as one of the wisest decisions I have ever made. This is the reason why I also encourage my mentees and every freshman I encounter to establish a relationship with their advisor and professors as early as possible.” Cassy notes that Saint Leo students are fortunate to attend a smaller institution, where professors and staff are very accessible and prove to be invaluable resources.

“At Saint Leo there are also a lot of networking and career development opportunities available,” she says. “And I encourage everyone to use them. Career planning put together great networking events that I attended. I also visited that office when I needed help reviewing my personal statement and putting together my CV, and most importantly to practice for interviews. These extra steps made it easier for me when I was applying to summer programs and graduate school.”

Cassy Anselme at graduation“You’ll love the person you become here.” That is what Cassy was told repeatedly before coming to Saint Leo University. “But it was not until becoming a Lion and doing my best to model our core values that I truly understood the depth of this statement,” Cassy remembers. “The core values taught me how to love my campus and want to be a part of it, how to be involved in bettering my community and myself while creating lifelong memories. And after attending Saint Leo University, I am proud to say that I am a Lion and that I truly love the person I became. I will take with me all that I have learned at Saint Leo—wherever I go.”

What is next for Cassy Anselme? She will be attending Texas A&M in Fall 2015 as a PhD student in medical sciences. Just another step in her amazing journey.


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