Penn Hills native has long list of accomplishments at St. Vincent College
Kyanna Williams-Pate made the most of her college experience and is looking for the opportunity to do more to help the less fortunate.
A Penn Hills native, Williams-Pate, 21, is to graduate Saturday with a degree in biology from St. Vincent College near Latrobe, where she excelled as a student leader on campus and abroad. She was president of the school's Visionaries of HOPE, led a minority mentor group and co-founded both a chapter of the American Medical Student Association and the women's rugby team.
“I like to stay involved so that I can help people. I want to stay focused to be successful in my goals,” Williams-Pate said.
The lengthy list of campus activities and accomplishments are nothing new.
Williams-Pate had a job in high school while simultaneously taking college courses.
“You have to learn how to manage your time and prioritize, and then everything else falls into place,” the graduate said.
One of her most enjoyable experiences in college was her involvement in multicultural clubs, where her exchanges with other students taught her life lessons.
“I got to learn about people from diverse backgrounds… If you don't know how to interact with people who are different from you, then you're ignorant,” Williams-Pate said.
After learning about the culture of Haiti, Williams-Pate decided to take a trip to the impoverished nation.
“I fell in love with (Haiti) and how people adapt (to poverty and crisis). It stayed with me in my heart and allowed me to make a connection to follow my dreams,” she said.
During the trip, Williams-Pate discovered that some children were not allowed to attend school because they didn't have shoes — as part of the nation's uniform policy for children.
She gave away her alternate pair of shoes on the spot, along with some clothes she'd brought with her on the trip, she said.
On her return to St. Vincent, she began a fundraiser to purchase shoes, multivitamins and soccer balls to benefit Haiti's children.
Her efforts to help others don't stop with humanitarianism.
Williams-Pate, who plans to become a doctor, conducted research on zebrafish to work toward finding treatments to help people combat sickle-cell anemia.
Her faculty adviser, Brother Albert Gahr, was her research partner on the three-semester project.
Gahr, an assistant biology professor, said Williams-Pate is a model student and gives her full effort to tasks.
“She's extremely determined to complete assignments. She puts all of herself into what she's doing and shows others ‘We can do this,'” Gahr said.
Her research earned second place at this year's Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society Regional Conference. She will be enrolling in a master's of public health program at Chatham University, followed by medical school.
“I ultimately want to practice medicine in an urban area for the financially disabled,” she said. “I believe everyone has a right to quality health care, regardless of their income. I want to extend my knowledge and skills to help people abroad.”