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Faith Kirkland

Spelman College 2016 Valedictorian

G-STEM Summer 2014 – University of Cordoba (Spain)


Faith K

Faith K in Spain

As most seniors, Faith Kirkland was busy trying to cross all her T’s in order to graduate. She was actually surprised by the notification that she would be recognized as the 2016 Class Valedictorian. “I have worked really hard but I did not even think about it,” she shares. “I came to Spelman wanting to honor God and my parents. I am lucky to have such strong support.” Humbled by all the attention, she is also quick to credit a group of dedicated friends who have helped each other through many a late night study session. In fact, her roommate is another star G-STEM student, Alexandria Sutton, who will be attending medical school at Wright State University next year.

Reflecting on her Spelman journey, Kirkland knew as a freshman that she was interested in physical therapy. After deciding on a biology major, she sought additional opportunities to develop her skills. Her interest in G-STEM satisfied two things, a love of research and a desire to travel. “As a biology major, it is hard to fit travel into a regular semester, but nine weeks in the summer was really good.” Kirkland’s program was based in a lab at the University of Cordoba which teamed her with graduate level students. Her mentor helped her for a week but then she was expected to take responsibility for her own work. She confesses that learning new techniques was often hard, “It was a really huge project that my mentor gave me for the amount of time. But I got a lot of it down and got some information that he said that he could use for publication.” Kirkland also won first place for her Spelman Research Day poster presentation which is mandatory for all G-STEM participants.

Kirkland credits her G-STEM experience for helping her gain a sense of independence. She and her cohorts travelled across Europe together. They became quite confident in making plans, jumping on and off trains, and negotiating across language barriers. It is obvious that this experience allowed her to tap into a level of confidence that she did not even know was there. This summer she will enter Emory University’s physical therapy program. She is clear about the positive affect that touch can have and envisions opening a center for integrative healing one day. She also does not want to give up on her love for research and might pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Whether helping to heal patients or presenting on a global platform, Kirkland is preparing to make a positive impact on the world.

Faith Faith Maya2

Faith K, Faith R, Maya in Spain

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