Goodnight Spotlight: Selma Okyere-Badoo

Selma is not wasting any time making her mark at NC State and in the Goodnight Scholars community.

Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Selma Okyere-Badoo ’22: I am currently a first-year here at NC State pursuing a major in biochemistry. As of now, I am interested in pursuing a career in medicine because I want to help people and I enjoy the in-person contact that I can get with medical practice. During my senior year of high school, I volunteered at WakeMed Cary to see if I could handle working in a hospital environment. It was my first-year volunteering, so I started in the gift shop, but nevertheless, I enjoyed going in every week to interact with my fellow volunteers, managers, patients, and gift shop visitors. Being able to brighten a patient’s day by simply walking in and giving them flowers or other items that friends or family members ordered for them, and taking time to talk with them for a bit before I returned to my shift filled me with joy. Even though I am currently leaning towards medical school, I am also exploring other ways that I can apply science into personal interactions. As of now, I am hoping to participate in research that is focused on medical advancements or human diseases to see if it’s an interest that I will pursue. Moreover, I enjoy learning about people, whether it is by learning about their perspectives on certain topics, their culture, or their language. As a child, I had the chance to visit other countries outside of the US including my own. These experiences have allowed me to immerse in other cultures as well as strengthen the understanding of my own. For example, I am originally from Ghana and by visiting my country as well as practicing my culture here in the US, I have continued to speak my language, Twi, and have learned how important it is to be able to express your culture as well as be open to others’.

If you had to summarize your personality in one sentence, what would it say?

I am understanding, caring, sometimes funny, and always finding the joy in every situation.

How would you describe your life as an NC State student?

It has been as great as I expected and more. First of all, coming into my first semester in August 2018, I had a good support system. I had some friends coming from my previous high school as well as new friends that I had made once the Goodnight cohort list came out. I was so excited for the Summer Retreat and Welcome Week activities planned once everyone came on campus because I could not wait to interact with my fellow peers. I was excited for the new atmosphere, new schedule, different lifestyle, and being closer to attaining my future career goals. The social environment has definitely been fun because there is always something to do on campus as well as someone to interact with, so I am never bored. Also, there are so many organizations either career-oriented, of personal interests, etc. that I can be involved with, but I learned that it is important to not overwhelm myself. There is something for everyone, and if I don’t take time to focus on a few, I wouldn’t gain the experience that I want since I will be busy stretching myself thin. In addition to being a Goodnight Scholar, I am also a Thomas Jefferson Scholar where I plan to double major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Humanities and Social Sciences to promote interdisciplinary studies. There is a lot of responsibility that I have to take on, but I still have time to pursue my interests. For instance, I am a part of a planning committee for Service Raleigh 2019 where I reach out and contact non-profit organizations within the Raleigh area to increase partners and organizations so that more people can participate in Service Raleigh. I knew I enjoyed serving others since my high school year, so it was easy to get right into a student organization that catered to that interest.

Any personal accomplishments that you are proud of?

Being selected to be a part of the Goodnight Scholars Program! When I got an email to apply, I was shocked. I didn’t know that I would be selected to apply for such a prestigious program, let alone selected to be a part of the Class of 2022 cohort. Looking at the numbers and acceptance rate, I didn’t think that they were in my favor. I knew that I did well academically in high school and was very involved, but I didn’t think that there was anything about me that necessarily stood out. Every time I hear about students getting into prestigious scholarship programs, I would always hear that they had been participating in research and doing internships since their freshman year of high school or were presidents of various school clubs which didn’t sound like me, so I was surprised when I made it to the finalist round. I was so excited because out of 800+ applicants, I was chosen as one of the 100 finalists. I was so happy that I made it that far that even if I wasn’t chosen, I would have still been grateful because it was so hard to get there. I was watching Black Panther with a friend when the news came out. I usually don’t step out for movies because there are no advertisements and I don’t like missing parts, but this time I did. A minute later, I got an email saying, “Update on your Goodnight Scholars Program Class of 2022 status.” I was shaking while I was opening the email, but as I read the words “Congratulations!” I started to tear up. I finally understood what happy tears meant. I came back, and my friend knew what happened because I was crying, smiling, and just in awe. I called my family screaming and crying with joy and I could hear celebration on the other side the line. For a week, I kept re-reading the email because I couldn’t believe that I was going to State as a Goodnight Scholar. I am still in awe when I tell people that I am a Goodnight Scholar because of all the amazing opportunities that come with being one.

I finally understood what happy tears meant.

What is one experience you need to have at NC State before you graduate?

Before I graduate, I want to study abroad, preferably somewhere where I haven’t been before. It gives me a chance to interact with others and enhance my learning about others by experiencing lifestyles different from the one that I may be used to. I want to travel to a Spanish-speaking country and be able to experience cultures and speak the language in person with other natives. Coming into my first year, I planned on going to Spain, but as I look into the many different study abroad options present through NC State, I have been more open to other countries, for example, countries in South America. I know that cultures and living situations will be different wherever I go, but I haven’t been to South America before, so that will be really cool to experience. At Allison [Medlin’s] suggestion, I have been looking into the study abroad program in Chile. It definitely suits my interest of health services while still practicing my Spanish speaking and understanding skill. I also love nature and exploring, hiking, taking pictures, and all in all, taking in all the beauty of nature, so it will be really cool to see the different landscapes wherever I go.

Tell us about your time in the Goodnight Scholars Program.

The Goodnight Scholars Program still seems like a dream, but I am so glad to be in this group of high achieving students and couldn’t imagine a college experience without it. Everyone I have met through the Program has been easy to connect with and has been supportive with any decisions or plans I take towards my interests and passions. No one is competing with one another because we all have our own individualized paths and want to see each other succeed. Since everyone is driven, motivated, and selfless, I have been encouraged to take on those qualities and put my best foot forward. The Goodnight Scholars Program definitely creates a great atmosphere of community for its scholars.

What does being a Goodnight Scholar mean to you?

Coming into the Program, I realized that an investment is being made in me so that I can do well and pay it forward later in the future. By being a Goodnight [Scholar], I learned that I have come into a community that is connected for a lifetime. They are there to comfort you when you aren’t feeling your best, to give you feedback, and to support you through your successes. I know that by being a Goodnight [Scholar], I am being held to a higher standard in hopes of doing well and inspiring others throughout my undergraduate years and beyond. I strive to do my best in everything I do because I know how important it is to invest in others after I make it. Like we are always reminded, it is not merely a scholarship for our high school achievement, but an investment for our future in hopes of us becoming inspiring leaders in whatever path we take and pay it forward.

Do you have an unforgettable memory from your time in the Program thus far?

Shack-a-thon! Shack-a-thon is an event where many organizations on campus build shacks on the Brickyard out of wood and other approved materials and stay in it for a week. The purpose of Shack-a-thon is to raise awareness for home insecurity and money for Habitat for Humanity. I volunteered to stay in the shack for different days and nights, but on the Thursday night of that week, I joined in on a somewhat full shack with different scholars including my mentor and fellow mentee. I didn’t know everyone in the shack coming in, but within a few minutes everyone was talking to each other like old friends, laughing, playing games, and having just fun. That is when I knew I was in the right place; everyone clicked instantly with each other even when those who didn’t know each other to begin with. Usually, in situations like this, I would expect small talk and some awkward silences, but it was the opposite of that! We were all laughing with each other talking about our academic lives, personal lives, and anything and everything. That is the kind of connection I feel towards many of my fellow scholars, especially towards those in our cohort. It is hard to have all 50 of us in one place at one time except during our first-year seminar or big events like the All Goodnight Meeting, but when we do see each other, we stop to update each other on our lives and involvements like old friends catching up.

Where do you picture yourself after graduation?

I came into my first semester thinking that I will definitely go to medical school after I finish my undergraduate years, but as time went on, I have been more open to different career paths. So really, I am not sure. I hope that whatever I am doing, I am interacting with people and helping them in any way possible. I still imagine myself mostly engaged with health services whether that be medical research, being a doctor, working pharmacy, etc. Moreover, I hope that I still am engaged in the world and encouraged to learn. Hopefully I am traveling to different places and possibly visiting every continent, even Antarctica if I had the chance.

Photography credit: Jason Perry/Goodnight Scholars Program