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Courtesy photo Grace Ngobo Toko Mbonda, a senior at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, is honored this spring by the state as one of the '29 Who Shine' on public higher education campuses.

NORTH ADAMS >> Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts senior Grace Ngobo Toko Mbonda on Monday was honored at a "29 Who Shine" awards ceremony at the Massachusetts Statehouse. Presented by the state Department of Higher Education, the award program each year honors outstanding students representing each of the commonwealth's 29 public higher education campuses.

A biology and chemistry major from Brockton who aspires to attend medical school after her graduation from MCLA today, Mbonda aspires to provide medical care to young girls and women. This desire, she says, stems from her experiences growing up in Cameroon in Central Africa, where she saw the negative consequences of inadequate health care and a lack of sexual health care education as she worked alongside her mother, who is a midwife.

She particularly is interested in pursuing cancer research specific to the field of gynecology, as well as sickle cell anemia and tropical diseases such as malaria. Mbonda recently participated in MCLA's annual Undergraduate Research Conference with her chemistry project, which centered on thermoregulation of virulence genes in Escherichia coli.

In addition to earning dean's list honors, academic scholarships and recognitions, Mbonda is a two-time recipient of the ALANA Academic Achievement Award. A member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society, she is involved in numerous campus organizations, and holds several leadership positions.


In addition to her membership in the Black Student Union and the Ski Club, she has served on the executive boards of the Biology Club, the African Student Association, and the ALANA Club Council. As a student co-facilitator of Campus Conversations on Race, Mbonda leads conversations with her peers on race and ethnicity that address societal change, and provides guidance on methods to explore and understand the underpinnings of race relations.