Applied Biomedical Sciences Majors Grow as Leaders and Mentors

Lovia Gyau and Ashley Okoro
Lovia Gyau and Ashley Okoro, applied biomedical sciences students, forged a bond during their sophomore year that helped them become more confident in and out of the classroom.

By Karen Angelo

As virtual classes replaced lecture halls during the pandemic in 2020, Ashley Okoro kept as active as possible. 

“I actually enjoyed my first semester,” says Okoro, an applied biomedical sciences major from Boston. “I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone and do what I could to meet people.” 

During her first semester, Okoro secured a work-study job stocking shelves in the Solomont School of Nursing. She was living on campus, but opportunities to socialize were limited, so she connected with other students online. The following year, she met Lovia Gyau in microbiology class, and the two forged a lasting bond. 

“I’m a very shy person, so being isolated made it even harder for me to form friendships,” says Gyau, an applied biomedical science major from Worcester, Massachusetts. “Ashley has helped me come out of my shell and encouraged me to get involved in clubs and explore all the different opportunities that UML offers.” 

Joining student clubs such as the Salvation International Prayer Youth Ministry, First Love, the Association of Students of African Origin and the Association of Clinical Laboratory Sciences helped them both experience new things, connect with like-minded people and explore their future profession. 

“When I got to college, I promised myself that I would say ‘yes’ to everything,” says Okoro. “I used to stop myself from trying new things because of what other people would think. Now, I care about what I think.” 

This new confidence spurred her to mentor students as a peer leader in the River Hawk Scholars Academy, an academic success program for first-generation students. 

“It was tough for me to become a mentor, because freshmen are looking up to you. But I did it, and now I’m more confident in myself,” says Okoro. “Looking back, I think I was meant to go to UMass Lowell.” 

Gyau, who grew up in Ghana and came to the U.S. when she was 11, has earned the dean’s list in each semester and tutored students in the Health Sciences Hub

“I think that Ashley and I both helped each other grow and be more confident,” says Gyau. “UMass Lowell provided the opportunities that helped me find myself, and I feel that I’ve been able to make an impact.” 

Okoro appreciates her friendship with Gyau and others with whom she’s bonded with at UMass Lowell. 

“My friendship with Lovia has helped me grow as a person by allowing me to see myself in a different light and having hope and faith that things can get done even if I’m in doubt,” says Okoro. “I’ve learned to trust myself more and have more confidence in my decisions.”