Feature Stories 2023: Kailey Sousa '27: Big dreams
Kailey Sousa '27: Big dreams

Kailey Sousa '27 is one of two students to be awarded the university's inaugural Founders' Scholarship. The four-year, full ride scholarship recognizes Sousa's exceptional talent and drive.

First-year student and Founders' scholar Kailey Sousa shares her first impressions of UMassD, and her hopes for the next 4 years. 

Why bioengineering? 

"Bioengineering hits home for me. When my brother was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer at 17 months old, I admired the drive and passion everyone on his team had. While cancer researchers are behind the scenes, their research makes a difference, and I knew that cancer research was where my heart always was. As a bioengineer, I can study cancer and work toward developing a cure while also engineering medical devices and solutions that will help people right now.  To me, it’s the best of both research and practical problem solving."  

At UMassD, students in the College of Engineering are "engineers from year-one," but some get started even earlier than that. Though Sousa is a first-year student, she has already had the opportunity to practice sophomore-level lab skills even before the start of her first semester. 

Tell us about your experience with the summer internship program. What did you learn to do? How has this prepared you for college? 

"It was an awesome experience. I joined a six-week paid internship program where we learned about biomedical engineering, medical lab science, and chemistry.  We were actually learning some things that were part of the sophomore curriculum, so I feel I'm a step ahead, and more prepared for what comes next.  Plus, it was a great opportunity for building relationships with faculty and making those connections before starting college."  

What are your first impressions of your UMassD experience? Is it what you expected? 

"I didn't expect to be so busy! There are so many ways to get involved on campus, and I've found lots of things I want to be a part of. I'm not in my dorm most of the day, which is a good thing. Some of my friends are at bigger schools, but I find being at a smaller school means that connections here are more intimate and impactful. The community here makes it feel like home. College life has been a big adjustment; in that way, it's what I needed, if not what I expected." 

What are your goals for your first year of college? Your hopes for the next 4 years? 

"My first-year goal is to get settled and explore the opportunities available to me. I want to start doing research as soon as I can and continue getting out of my shell.   

"Over the next four years, I hope to join the 4+1 program and graduate with a solid plan for what comes next, whether that's a PhD or a job in my field. I also hope to be a leader on campus and become a person other students can turn to for help or advice." 

Do you have a dream job? 

"My dream job would be to conduct cancer research with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, supported by the Jimmy Fund. I hope to one day stand in the hall where the doctors who helped my brother once stood."