Student Spotlight: Deja Santana C’21

Deja Santana C’21

What attracted you to Drew? 

Since I was interested in majoring in neuroscience, I thought it was great that there were a bunch of research opportunities offered at Drew.

What drew you to your major and minors?

Taking a sociology course with Dr. Kesha Moore convinced me that I should major in this subject. I like that sociology provides a very comprehensive perspective of the world.  You are not just considering yourself but others and trying to solve problems.

I like that neuroscience is an inductive way of understanding cognition and behavior.

Have you done any internships? 

I did an internship at the University of California San Francisco during the summer of 2018 for the Guo Lab of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH.) I did research on the anxiety through the behavioral testing of zebrafish.  I worked 40 hours a week, every single day.

This past summer (2020) I worked as a Marketing and Technology intern for Upkey. I collaborated with two teams to come up with innovative solutions and helped manage many projects.

My most recent internship is at Global Nomads Group. I started as a Program Development intern. I interviewed users on their experience and used that feedback to edit the and further design the art program. Since the middle of October I’ve been an Operations intern.  I’m working on redesigning their orientation experience for new hires across all positions.

Do you have any mentors at Drew?

Sociology Professor Dr. Kesha Moore, though no longer at Drew, is still a mentor for me.  She challenges, guides me, and helps me figure out what I really want.  Another mentor is my Sociology Professor Dr. Jonathan Reader who is very supportive.  He always encourages me as we discuss my plans.

Have you studied abroad? Done any short NYC trecs?

I did the Barcelona shortTREC with Spanish Professor Dr. Monica Cantero. It was really great and organized so well.  I especially liked the cultural class in the evening where we had the opportunity to learn how to make paella, visited the Picasso museum, and saw historical ruins.

Tell me about the organization you started called “Students for Justice”?

This past summer, a friend and I went to protest against police brutality in Newark, NJ. We were very disappointed that it was being led by a police vehicle, so we decided to organize our own march in Montclair, NJ.  We started this organization and recruited our friends to help us organize three events to encourage our community to advocate for Black Lives. This included a community solidarity space where black voices were amplified and a march for black women and those in the LGBTQ community.  Three hundred people attended both events . Most of our marketing was on Instagram and Facebook.  Our last program was a grant program that ended on October 1st where we raised money for a grant distribution project called, “Bottom up: What’s Your Dream?” designed to support the dress and projects of black women and LGBTQ people in Essex County, NJ.  With grants starting at $500, our goal was to help six people however, we ended raising $3,500, enough to distribute 7 grants.

What issue in the world means the most to you?

Helping to heal those who have suffered from trauma.

What are a few of your favorite memories of Drew?  

As a commuter my favorite memories have come from doing research with Dr. Christina McKittrick. I’ve made some great friends through this research.

What advice would you give students who are just starting out?

Students should take the time to know what they really want to do before they commit to things. Talk to professionals to find out which profession you may like or don’t like.

What are your career goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years? 

I would like to eventually work for Google or Vice media, in a creative design position related to technology.  I also want to start my own non-profit to help women cope with their trauma.

Are there any fun facts you would like to share? 

I like to draw, dance, and travel.  I spent a semester in Tokyo at Temple University Japan. I also had the chance to visit Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima. I loved Japan because everything was so perfect, clean, and efficient. I also appreciate the emphasis on communal respect. I made lifelong friends there and I definitely plan on going back.

Tokyo, Japan

Top of Kyoto, Japan











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