Student Profile: Sheila Namirembe ’15

'Next year I am pursuing my Ph.D. in organic chemistry to work to discover new drugs to combat tropical diseases.'

NAME Sheila Namirembe ’15

HOMETOWN Kampala, Uganda

ACADEMICS Chemistry major

ACTIVITIES Multicultural Peer Educators, Interfaith Prayer Council, Honorary Degree Committee

What was the transition like leaving Uganda to attend Holy Cross?

“You really feel at home being an international student at Holy Cross. You may think you will feel overwhelmed, but there is so much support from fellow students, professors, administrators, and programs such as Passport and Odyssey. Because of both programs, I was here for four weeks before school started, so that really helped with my transition. When my roommate arrived, I was able to show her Dinand Library, Kimball Dining Hall, and Cool Beans coffee shop.”

Tell me about some of the research you’ve done with Andre Isaacs ’05, assistant professor of chemistry.

“Working in Professor Isaacs’ research lab for the past two summers has been very rewarding. It is not an opportunity that my friends who attend larger schools have because research labs are reserved  for graduate students. Right now, we’re working at the forefront of science developing beta-lactams, the building blocks of antibiotics. Our research will help with antibacterial resistance, and we hope to publish our work in the future. Results from our research project have enabled Professor Isaacs to obtain a Cottrell College Science Award of $45,000. In addition, I have earned an accreditation from the American Chemistry Society because of my research with Professor Isaacs and my studies as a chemistry major.”

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Holy Cross?

“During my junior year I worked with the Chaplains’ Office to go to New York for an annual interfaith conference. My first year was the start of the interdenominational prayer service offered on campus. It took roughly a semester of reaching out and identifying students who might be interested in attending an interdenominational prayer service. We looked at models from other colleges to finalize the now well-attended alternative to the Catholic masses on campus.”

What are your plans after graduation?

“During my sophomore year I was part of the Multicultural Peer Educators, and I was able to attend the Social Justice Training Institute in California. My commitment to social justice drives a lot of the decisions I’ve made, like my decision to come to Holy Cross.  It also plays into my post-graduation goals. Uganda has tropical diseases that have been neglected by researchers and pharmaceutical companies. My hope is that a Ph.D. in organic chemistry will enable me to join in the discovery and development of drugs for tropical diseases, not only in Uganda but in Africa as a whole. That’s why next year I am pursuing my Ph.D. in organic chemistry to work to discover new drugs to combat tropical diseases. I’m thrilled that I’ve been accepted to both Boston College and the University of Pittsburgh.”