The AERD Center at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston seems to be a meeting point for Hamilton alumni, as Deb Gakpo ’19 will be the third alumna to work there. At the Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease (AERD) Center, Gakpo will serve as clinical research coordinator, performing a variety of tasks including coordinating with drug companies who want to start trials and maintaining patient history records.
Before applying for the position, Gakpo was in close contact with Marina Palumbo ’17, an alumna who shares a career interest in healthcare. Palumbo currently works at the AERD Center, in the role that Gakpo will soon take over. Another Hamilton alumna, Tanya Laidlaw ’98, interviewed and ultimately hired Gakpo.
Majors: Biology, dance and movement studies
Hometown: Orange, N.J.
High school: Abby Kelley Foster Charter School
While Gakpo clearly connected with both Palumbo and Laidlaw over their common alma mater, she said that their relatedness will certainly not end there. After just a day at the center, Gakpo knows that the AERD center is a place where she can get the mentorship she desires and collaborate with colleagues. Further, Gakpo looks forward to gaining clinical experience by spending ample time with patients and learning their stories.
In fact, storytelling is central to Gakpo’s career interests. As a biology and dance double major, Gakpo feels that the two disciplines relate in their ability to tell stories through the body. Gakpo anticipates that this viewpoint will help her immensely in the future as she attempts to construct her patients’ stories through the right questions and observations. Her creative approach to science does not end there, however. She recalls that Organic Chemistry was the course at Hamilton that challenged her the most but believes that she got through it because she thought about the problems creatively, refusing to approach them as straightforward, textbook answers.
Gakpo expressed gratitude to Writing Center Director Jennifer Ambrose, and Professors Jane Springer and Rhea Datta, who she says supported her through every step of the journey to where she stands now. In the future, Gakpo plans to become a neonatologist, working with not only children in the United States, but children in Ghana, her home country, and other countries dealing with high rates of infant mortality.