Penuela Kumi-Damoah, a Breakthrough New York student, will be attending Yale and majoring in neuroscience. Penuela shared some of her reasons for choosing Yale and her passion for neuroscience.  

Penuela’s interest in medicine stemmed from a childhood experience where she discovered her fascination with the human body, particularly the heart, during a doctor’s visit. Initially aspiring to become a pediatrician, her interests evolved after participating in a Columbia summer program, where she found a keen interest in neuroscience and its intersection with psychology. She envisions a career as a pediatric neurologist, specializing in mental health issues in children and exploring how childhood experiences shape adulthood.

When discussing her decision to attend Yale, Penuala said, “Meeting with Jonathan [my college] counselor, made this more of a reality for me. So I was stuck between Yale and Princeton.” However, Penuela fell in love with not only how Yale teaches neuroscience but also campus life. “It’s clear to me that Yale values diversity and equity work, which is something I do at my current school, high school. When I went for Bulldog days, which was admitted students weekend, they had like African American culture houses and like really cool things like that. I’m also interested in like, their mental health clubs and supporting [those initiatives], because I know colleges in general, I sometimes struggle with like how to support students,” 

Currently engaged in a clinical psychology internship, Penuela is gaining hands-on experience in research and event planning. She finds fulfillment in both aspects, appreciating the balance between solitary research work and social engagement through events. Her internship experiences complement her academic interests and provide valuable insights into real-world applications of neuroscience and psychology.

Penuela’s involvement in diversity and inclusion work at her high school seamlessly integrates with her internship activities, allowing her to apply her passion for equity and support to her academic and extracurricular pursuits. She sees parallels between her advocacy work and the projects she undertakes during her internship, further reinforcing her commitment to social impact.

Reflecting on her journey from high school to college, Penuela acknowledges the challenges of transition but looks forward to the support network she has cultivated over the years. “I think something I’m grateful for and excited about was having Breakthrough on my corner for college. I mean, the transition is already hard and I think it’s going to be really nice to have Breakthrough, which I’ve been a part of, for a really, really long time.”

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