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UTHSC to Graduate 83 Students in 2023 Summer Commencement

Degrees will be awarded to 51 students from the College of Nursing and 32 students from the College of Graduate Health Sciences at UTHSC’s summer commencement Monday, August 21.

When Kamalika Samanta walks across the stage Monday to accept her doctoral degree, she is certain she will be equipped with all the tools she needs for the next step in her career as a researcher.

Samanta is one of 83 students graduating in UTHSC’s summer commencement on August 21. She and 31 other students from the College of Graduate Health Sciences are receiving the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Science, or Master of Dental Science.

The other 51 students are graduating from the College of Nursing’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, the most highly ranked BSN program in Tennessee, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Kamalika Samanta

For Samanta, her experience at UTHSC taught her more than just the technical aspects of having a successful career. “Being here at UTHSC, I believe I developed significant confidence about the work I do,” she said. “I also gained public speaking and communication skills that have helped me prepare for the job I want to do next.”

Originally from India, Samanta chose to attend UTHSC after learning about the enriched research profile within the College of Graduate Health Sciences. “Being someone new to a research career, learning about all the research opportunities at UTHSC made me excited to be part of the institution.”

Samanta worked in a lab focused on the development and delivery of a vaccine for Lyme disease, under her research advisor, Maria Gomes-Solecki, DVM, a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Biochemistry. “There is still no human vaccine available for Lyme disease, hence our lab focuses a lot on understanding preventive measures and the tick-host relationship that influences the global spread of Lyme disease,” she said.

An animal vaccine Dr. Gomes-Solecki’s lab created is now headed to market—a major accomplishment that assures Samanta that she received expert guidance during her training. Overall, her experience at UTHSC and in the College of Graduate Health Sciences was exceptional, she said.

“UTHSC helped me to understand research at the industrial level and to gain the experience that helped me get my desired job.”

Kamalika Samanta

“My ability to think about science and contribute to the scientific society has been one of the best parts of attending UTHSC,” Samanta said. “I totally liked the faculty members’ being so welcoming in discussing science and helping us think outside the box, not just related to the work we do. The other students were also so supportive and engaging.”

Samanta has already begun the next phase of her career, working currently as a senior scientist at Merck in Philadelphia. According to her, her experience at UTHSC was crucial to obtaining a position in a large, well-known company. “I always wanted to get into industry, and UTHSC helped me to understand research at the industrial level and to gain the experience that helped me get my desired job,” she said.

The 2023 summer commencement ceremony will be held Monday, August 21, at 10 a.m., at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD, will preside over the ceremony, which will be streamed live on the UTHSC Commencement webpage.