Last year Symone Jordan, 22, said she looked at her finances and knew she didn’t have enough money to finish school at Bowie State University. All the scraping and saving — finding every scholarship and internship she could — would end in her leaving school until she could afford the final year, she said.
And then the Accokeek resident said she got a phone call from the National Institutes of Health.
The post baccalaureate program she applied to — one she didn’t think she had a chance to win — was hers for the taking. She said she was one of 19 students selected in the country who will work for the NIH for a year and a summer.
“I had applied to it a year before,” Jordan said. “I was super excited. It was definitely perfect.”
Her final year was paid for and Jordan graduated on May 19 with a major in biology and minors in psychology and chemistry.
Now Jordan said she is on track to achieve her goals of being a plastics and reconstructive surgeon that helps minority communities suffering from cleft palates and lymphoma diseases.
“I can’t change it overnight, and I just can’t be this gung-ho doctor that saves all minorities. I know that is outlandish,” Jordan said. “But I want to do my part.”
Jordan is a first-generation college graduate who exemplifies some of the struggles that college students face. Determined to graduate, Jordan took on student loan debt and pulled together all the resources she could to finish school, but she said she didn’t get a mastery of obtaining scholarships until a year or two into school.
Jordan said she hopes her story motivates other students to apply for every scholarship possible.
“Even if you don’t think you will get it, apply,” Jordan said. “You never know what will happen.”
After those financial hurdles, Jordan has made the best of her college career, said Robert Batten, Bowie State University Director of International Students and Jordan’s mentor.
Batten said Jordan earned the NIH scholarship and also was one of few Prince George’s County students selected as a Historically Black College and Universities All-Star, which is a White House ambassador to fellow students, he said.
Jordan said this program had her talking with other students about the value of the Affordable Care Act and academics.
“She has brought a shine to Bowie State University that I don’t think any other student has,” Batten said. “Symone far exceeded any expectation I had.”
Tracey Jordan, Symone’s mother, said she was proud of her daughter’s accomplishments. She faced some challenges, both financial and adapting to college life, her mother said, but Symone put in the hard work to become successful.
“She has excelled for the entire time she has been in school,” Tracey Jordan said. “No goal is unobtainable for her.”