Three Florida A&M University (FAMU) premedical students are heading off to pursue their dreams after graduation.
Biology student Kerra Kelly and chemistry student Zaire Johnson have both been admitted to Howard University College of Dentistry this summer, while pharmacy student Nkosi Singleton plans to remain closer to home to attend the Florida State University College of Medicine. The three are among the more than 1,200 graduates participating in Spring 2023 commencement ceremonies on May 5 and May 6.
Fran Scott, director of the Premedical Office in the FAMU College of Science and Technology, commended the work ethic of the three students.
“These students epitomize the very best of our campus, and their value to the University and community is unmatched,” said Scott. “I have been very impressed by their resilience and work ethic, which is truly a testament to their character. I think their success reminds students following in their footsteps that regardless of background or ethnicity, you can achieve the goal. Helping students maximize their potential and chances for acceptance to professional school is the No.1 priority of the Premedical Office.”
Johnson was part of the dentistry program at Tampa Bay Technical High School before coming to FAMU. She had other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in mind until she took a college tour and visited the Tallahassee campus.
“When I toured FAMU and witnessed the way students interacted with each other, the way they looked out for each, I thought I could see myself here. I didn’t even tour Howard, so FAMU had the upper hand,” said Johnson. “I do not regret my decision at all.”
Johnson cites Chemistry Department Chair Professor James Bouyer, Ph.D., and dentist Dr. Lori Wilson, a FAMU alum who practices in Dothan, Alabama, as two mentors who helped her on her FAMU journey. At Howard College of Dentistry, she hopes to become a generalist rather than a specialist.
“I like to do different things. I can’t do the same things every day. I want to general dentistry so I can do a little bit of everything; it gives me more variety.”
As a senior at Eagles Landing Christian Academy in Henry County, an Atlanta suburb, Kelly had been accepted to the University of Alabama and paid her deposit. But Kelly felt uneasy about her decision.
Her father, a bank executive in Detroit, had been sending her articles about HBCUs and how most African American physicians and dentists were HBCU graduates.
Kelly had also applied to three HBCUs, Spelman College, Xavier University, and FAMU. On Saturday morning, Kelly will graduate from the College of Science and Technology summa cum laud with a 3.84 GPA and an acceptance letter to the Howard University College of Dentistry.
“It was everything I hoped for and so much more,” the 2021 White House HBCU Scholar said of her FAMU experience. She got involved in campus activities from her first semester, the fall 2019. She competed in the Housing pageant. She joined Sistuhs Inc., became heavily involved in the Pre-Dental Society, and pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Kelly’s goal is to work with children.
“Since high school, I always wanted to be a pediatric dentist or an orthodontist,” said Kelly.
A Tallahassee’s Leon High School graduate, Singleton had his pick of universities to attend. But he only had one natural choice.
“I wanted to continue the legacy of FAMU. Both of my parents went to FAMU,” said Singleton, son of FAMU psychology professor Gwendolyn Singleton, Ph.D., and Darnell Singleton, a business owner.
Singleton initially started as a pharmacy major, planning to complete a Pharm.D. But after shadowing pharmacists, he became interested in pursuing an MD. He credits several local physicians for their mentorship.
“Dr. Remelda Saunders-Jones and Dr. Wayne Batchelor have been extremely instrumental in advising me,” Singleton said. “They embody the type of physician I want to become. Doctors who care. They love people beyond the science.”