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Class of 2024: Kramoh Mansalay

Global Fellow Kramoh Mansalay was a leader at McDaniel, organizing countless events for the campus as part of the Pre-Health Club, Africa’s Legacy, the Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Society, and the Muslim Students Association. He discovered his favorite class of college while studying abroad in Morocco and had his outlook on life changed by faculty mentors at home on the Hill.

A student wearing a lab coat looks at a microscope while smiling.

Kramoh Mansalay is a dual Biomedical Science and Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies major with a Linguistic specialization, with minors in Biology and Chemistry, from Philadelphia.

When I took my first step on the Hill, I was: Nervous, because I had left home and there was a pandemic. Who wouldn’t be concerned? After the shock of being away, I felt that everything would be okay if I trusted in Allah and tied my camel (an expression for having faith and working hard).

The me who will ring the Old Main bell on Commencement Day is: Overjoyed. All the labs, clubs, classes, and hours I put in made me a very different person, and I’m glad to be him. It was not easy, but it was most certainly worth it.

Real-world experiences: The summer after freshman year, I had my first research project with Dr. Michael Polen in the Chemistry department learning about IR spectroscopy. The summer after my sophomore year, I shadowed a family nurse practitioner as a McDaniel Summer Intern Fellowship recipient. During Jan Term my junior year, I began my research with Professor Dana Ferraris in the Chemistry department synthesizing my first set of SARS-CoV-2 macrodomain inhibitors as well as volunteering at the Pediatric Emergency Department of the University of Maryland Medical Center. In fall of senior year, I studied abroad in Ifrane, Morocco, at Al Akhawayn University, and in Jan Term of senior year, I completed my research with Dr. Ferraris and synthesized a new batch of inhibitors.

I met outstanding Biology and Chemistry alumni during my research sessions, which was great for getting insight into their science careers during and after McDaniel, as well as how they bridged the two. That first research session is especially meaningful to me now given that I had made connections with McDaniel powerhouses like Hyosik Kim ’22 and Sarah Aleman ’23. Connecting with them and being part of the McDaniel Biology and Chemistry community from such an early time in my career here has truly been exceptional and I couldn’t be more grateful for choosing to spend my first summer that way.

My aha moment: I learned that my favorite part of leading a team is supporting everyone in growing alongside you and that any good leader is an even better motivator and team player. Receiving compliments and commendations for the work I’ve been part of has been nice on my own, but it is far sweeter when the team is all together. For example, being with the Pre-Health Club and hosting our first ever People of Color in Healthcare panel two years ago was fun and provided great insight to a lot of students. I was proud to have had senior executive board members give me the reins to make that panel happen, as I do the same now as a senior for my fellow first-, second-, and third-year executive board members.

Footprints I’m leaving on the Hill: Overall, I would say that I want people to feel that the Pre-Health Club (PHC), Africa’s Legacy (Legacy), the Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Society (GSE), and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) made a positive impact in their lives. I’ve had the honor to work with the most talented and dedicated individuals McDaniel has to offer because of these groups. My wish is that any one of the hundreds, and I sincerely mean hundreds, of events I’ve worked on has benefited at least one of my peers. It could have been a general board meeting with Legacy, a speaker session with PHC, or a study night with GSE. For some, it may have been a larger event like CPR Certification Day with Kinesiology students, the Met Gala African Excellence Awards Dinner, the Taste of Islam Ramadan Iftaar Gala, or something else. In all these events, I truly wanted people to have a better understanding of Black, African, and Muslim people through myself and my peers and to continue understanding those groups as well as the fields of biology, chemistry, Arabic, and medicine all as excellent contributors to the fabric and well-being of our global society starting right here at McDaniel, something I’ve appreciated more recently as a Global Fellow.

Faculty or staff member who most influenced who I have become: This is tough to answer, as a variety of individuals have made me a better person. I think Senior Lecturer Carol Zaru and Associate Professor of Biology Cheng Huang have made me a more concise speaker and author, and Dr. Ferraris has encouraged me to think outside of the box.

A student in a lab coat stands in front of a microscope and smiles at the camera.

Best class ever: Honestly, I would give it to one of my classes abroad in Morocco at Al Akhawayn University, Islamic Art and Architecture taught by Dr. Said Ennahid. His passion for his course was very evident and I believe that many people teach and convey information, but he professed his love for the subject matter and that encouraged me to learn more about it. For a class here at home on the Hill (in no particular order), I would split it between Al-Amia Colloquial Arabic with Professor Zaru, Organic Chemistry II with Dr. Ferraris, and Topics of Biology with Dr. Burley for the same reason. I believe that their backgrounds in those respective fields really shine through in how they talk about their content. A standout of these classes were the stories that made the challenging days more enjoyable, which is very helpful considering that I was learning two dialects of Arabic, organic synthesis strategies element by element, as well as the digestive systems of livestock chamber by chamber.

Tell us a little about your activities, including sports, during your years at McDaniel: I was involved with the Pre-Health Club as historian, then as the community outreach chair of Africa’s Legacy, then as treasurer and vice president of the Chemistry Honor Society, and finally the president of the Muslim Students Association. I have worked with the Center for Experience and Opportunity since fall of 2022, worked as a Chemistry teaching assistant since fall of 2023, been a Global Fellow since spring of 2023, and I researched during summer of 2021, as well as Jan Term 2023 and 2024. I volunteered all four years with various departments and worked at a nonprofit during my first two years as well as connected with many students, staff, and faculty here, across the DMV, and during my fall 2024 semester in Morocco.

Took me totally by surprise: The love of crabs, sweet tea, and Old Bay down here!

My favorite spot on campus: I’ve spent so much time in the Hill Hall Prayer Room, so I would start there, but I would be remiss to exclude my professors’ offices, because if we had class for three hours a week, I can nearly guarantee I was in that professor’s office for another three hours a week reviewing, questioning, challenging, and appreciating the material for what it was and could be, and I believe they would all say the same.

Most mind-boggling idea I learned at McDaniel: The affinity of Marylanders for the state flag, crabs, and Old Bay.

My capstone titles: Biomedical Science: “The Synthesis of Optimized SARS-CoV-2 Macrodomain Inhibitors,” and AMES: “English to Arabic and Arabic to English Translation.”

What they’re about in plain talk: Making more potent organic molecules to be used as part of a future COVID-19 antiviral is the Biomedical Science capstone, and translating news articles, book forewords, and more between Arabic and English is the AMES capstone.

What’s next: Medical school, in’sha’Allah (God willing).

How will you stay connected to McDaniel? If not through the MSA, GSE, nor PHC, my affinity for my departments will certainly bring me back.

If you received financial aid, what did that mean for you and your family? In short, no aid = no school. Alhamdulillah (praise be to God) there was aid, so there was school! I recognize the blessing of being able to have an education because of my time working with populations in the states and abroad who are without means to support their education. Once again, not seeing myself terribly far from their situation, it really meant a lot that McDaniel’s aid was very good for me and many of my classmates. Had I been the only one to benefit from this aid, I would have missed out on so, so many opportunities to learn about other cultures, religions, regions of the world, experiences, ideas, and fields that I have yet to explore and appreciate. Once again, it was probably one of the biggest apparent blessings in my life to receive aid to attend and graduate from college.

About Kramoh

Name: Kramoh Mansalay

Majors: Biomedical Science and Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies - Linguistic

Minors: Biology and Chemistry

Class of 2024

"Being part of the McDaniel Biology and Chemistry community from such an early time in my career here has truly been exceptional and I couldn’t be more grateful for choosing to spend my first summer that way."