Published on May 4, 2021
Updated on May 13, 2021
The most important parts of Gabriel Martin Sasamoto’s college experience won’t appear on his diploma or transcript. His degree in biochemistry and minor in chemistry is underscored with personal growth and volunteer work to benefit his community.
Since he was a child, Sasamoto knew he wanted to pursue something related to science. With a love for science and the support of the Diversity Scholarship, Sasamoto left high school prepared to get a degree from MU. Despite appearing on the Dean’s honor roll and landing an impressive summer internship at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 2018, Sasamoto’s experience hasn’t always been easy.
“I think it’s important to understand that people can have failures,” Sasamoto said. “My sophomore year, specifically, I didn’t do very well in school. That’s when I really had to step it up because I was in a situation where everyone around me really didn’t care that much about school. And it was really tough to get myself out of that situation, but I had to get in a better environment.”
Sasamoto refused to let that struggle define his time at MU. With help from the CASE office along with his own focus and dedication, he not only turned his grades around, but learned to excel.
“In high school and earlier in college, that was my biggest challenge, managing my time properly, I could not do it,” Sasamoto said. “Making that change in my behavior, pretty much fundamentally, I was able to really become way more successful at everything that I did. Learning to manage my time and learning to prioritize what is most important and learning how to balance my life properly was personally my biggest accomplishment.”
Born in Bolivia, Sasamoto and his family came to America and settled in St. Louis in 2009. He always had a desire to get involved within the Hispanic community. With his grades on the rise, Sasamoto was able to carve out time to give back. He started volunteering with Centro Latino, a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 to serve the immigrant population of Missouri.
“I’m really grateful that I’m able to do it,” he said. “It’s something that’s rewarding because a lot of the people we’re helping are also immigrants. I remember, when we first moved here, it was really hard since you don’t really know anyone, and we didn’t really have much of a Hispanic community that we could go to. So, I know that it would have been nice to have that and to have a group of people that care about helping. It feels great to be able to give back and kind of give them something that I didn’t quite have, but I know would have been nice.”
Sasamoto also contributed to the academic community at MU as a part of the team that produces the “Show-Me Futures Podcast”. After graduation, he plans to take a gap year before he attends dental school. However, his plans for the gap year allow him to continue giving back and pursue his intellectual curiosity.
“I am going to be doing a lot of volunteering and a lot of shadowing,” Sasamoto said. “As well as working on trying to save up a little bit of money to have going into dental school because I know I won’t have any time to work during dental school because it’s going to be pretty intensive. If it’s possible, I would like to go back to Bolivia for three months or so and just do the same there but just be able to spend time with my family that I haven’t seen in a little bit.”
While his time and achievements at MU showcase his dedication and growth, Sasamoto wanted to highlight the role CASE Student Service Coordinator Ana-Maria Fernandez had on his experience.
“I’m just grateful to Ana-Maria for really sticking through and actually caring about the students that she advises,” he said. “She’s really a selfless person. She is so busy, but she’ll always just help you out if you need it. She’ll always be there. And I’m really grateful for that.”
Well Ana-Maria and the entire CASE staff is grateful for you Gabriel Martin Sasamoto. We cannot wait to see what the future holds. Congrats graduate, we are so proud of you!