Senior Spotlight: Eileanoir Dawson Wins Arthur S. Campbell Award for Science

Eileanoir Dawson '22 is from Davis, California, and is graduating with a BS in Biochemistry. She has earned the Arthur S. Campbell Award, which is granted to the graduating senior with an outstanding scholastic record in the School of Science. We asked her about her plans for the future, her award, and what she’ll remember most about Saint Mary’s.

How did you feel when you learned that you’d won the Arthur S. Campbell Award?

I felt very proud of myself, obviously. Usually, I’m a really humble person. You have to have tough skin, I think, when you’re a science student because teachers grade pretty brutally. I’m definitely the kind of person that gets my hopes low so that I don’t end up getting my feelings hurt. So, I tried to not attach myself to school stuff. When I got the award, I was really excited because it was a confirmation of all my hard work and all my studying, and hours and hours in the lab paid off. It was nice to be recognized by the school.

What subject matter did you study within the sciences?

I’m a Biochemistry major. When I got the email that I’d been nominated and I responded with a letter of why I think I deserved it and why Saint Mary's helped me, I mentioned my summer research that I did on atmospheric pollution and wildfire pollution. And then I connected it back to an internship I had at PG&E, where I was helping create a communication system between workers for PG&E who were out working on lines and doing projects in parks, and understanding which parks were open, which parks were closed, which park had wildfire restrictions impacting them, that kind of thing. My research from Saint Mary’s on atmospheric pollution and wildfire pollution helped me in that internship. I’ve done other research on campus, but primarily I’m a Biochemistry student. It’s really just a ton of chemistry classes.

Tell us about a class or activity that was special to you.

I have pulled really important things from all of my classes because the Chemistry Department is so wonderful. The professors in the Chemistry Department and the Bio Department—they’re amazing people. They’re amazing professors, and they’re really, really smart. And they have a really good way of teaching you without intimidating you. A class in particular that sticks out is Metabolic Pathways of Biochemistry. It was taught by Dr. Vidya Chandrasekaran. It was during COVID, too, so it was a whole challenge in itself because it’s online learning….The practical application aspect of it was very beneficial and it had a really good group of students that were very engaged and very active, which made it really fun.

What brought you to SMC?

I went to a really small project-based high school that was a charter academy. My graduating class was 80, and I knew that I did not want to get thrown into a lecture hall with a thousand students at a UC or a CSU. I started looking into private colleges like Reed or Lewis and Clark, Saint Mary’s, all different versions of the same style. I’m not Catholic, but Saint Mary’s stuck out to me because of the environment on campus when I visited.

Not only is the campus beautiful and you’re able to navigate it pretty well, but I could tell that I would get the support I needed from my professors there, to be able to have one-on-one contact with professors, feel the network better, to just have a stronger support system, especially if I was going into the sciences because that’s something that is already so intimidating. And I know that I’d heard rumors from other people who’d gone to UCs or friends I had who were above me who said they never met their professor. They were taught by a TA the whole time. They didn’t hold office hours. Things were just complicated. And I didn't want to be put in one of those positions. So, I went to Saint Mary’s and I’m really, really happy I did. Yeah.

What’s next for you?

I made a decision three months ago that I might want to go into health care. As of now, we’re following that path. I’m taking some pre-nursing classes this next year at Sacramento City College and then applying to a master’s in nursing program through UC Davis. I'll be doing basically a year of these pre-nursing classes, which are anatomy, physiology—those pre-health classes that aren’t included in my undergraduate major of Biochem. And then I also, in the meantime, while taking the classes and applying for the master's in nursing program, I want to get a health-care-related job. That would be a medical assistant job, a scribe job, any type of health-care job to just be able to feel out the hospital environment and what I would be seeing as a nurse in the future. After master’s in nursing, the goal is to go toward being a nurse practitioner. That’s the very long-term goal.

Saint Mary’s wishes Dawson all the best and looks forward to hearing about her future!