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image 1Commencement 2006

Commencement Profiles

Mariya Atanasova '08
More Than Skin Deep

Some people go to great lengths to follow their dreams. Mariya Atanasova '08 traveled nearly 6,000 miles from Bourgas, Bulgaria to study biochemistry at Adelphi, and eventually hopes to become a researcher in the field.

Like many young girls, Ms. Atanasova was fascinated with face creams and cosmetics as a middle school student. Her interest, however, was more than skin deep. The aspiring chemist wanted to learn more about the process behind creating cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Upon graduation from high school, Ms. Atanasova decided to pursue a career in research, which led her to study protein biochemistry in preparation for her chosen path. She was torn between teaching in a research setting versus conducting pure research.

"I would rather do the work that would clarify the pathway to do the drugs, figure out how they work," she says.

Adapting to a foreign culture was not easy for Ms. Atanasova. In fact, it's still a work in progress, she says. "Education doesn't include so much interaction in Bulgaria," Ms. Atanasova says. "You go to classes, read books, and self-educate." The open attitude of American professors surprised her.

Ms. Atanosova's mild culture shock has not impeded her success. A stellar student, she juggled a rigorous biochemistry major with her Honors College courses and various on-campus jobs, while maintaining a 3.80 GPA.

Adelphi provided Ms. Atanasova with a deep understanding of biochemistry. Associate Professor of Chemistry David Parkin offered her an opportunity to complete an independent study on an enzyme found in an STD parasite, trichomonas vaginalis. Ms. Atanasova focused on how the particular enzyme works.

As a testament to her hard work and dedication to her scholarship, Ms. Atanasova was accepted to the Ph.D. in biochemistry program at Boston University, where she will continue pursuing her dream of becoming a researcher.

She attributes much of her achievement to the support and encouragement she received at Adelphi.

"I came with enthusiasm, and most of the people strengthened and encouraged it, congratulated me, were happy for me," she says.

Photos by Willson Lee
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