An immigrant with the ambition to find her passion, Mona Ahonen ’14, graduated from Iona with an ACS Certified degree in chemistry. She completed summer research at Princeton and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her graduate studies in chemistry, where she was awarded the opportunity to work with the Matthew Stuart Morrison Fellowship. She recently defended her thesis and began a new job working as a Senior Chemist at Vast Therapeutics- a preclinical-stage pharmaceutical company that commercializes macromolecular nitric oxide storage and releases vehicles for clinical indications.
Mona initially attended the University of the Philippines and transferred to Iona when her family migrated to New York. “The overall atmosphere (of Iona) and the community just made it feel like home for me. Most of all, talking to Dr. Lee about the chemistry undergraduate program gave me the impression that Iona was a place that nurtures the growth of its students. My time as a student at Iona has helped me excel and cultivate my love for chemistry even more.”
Mona’s most memorable experiences at Iona were her time spent in the lab. She fondly reminisces about spending time with her friends and classmates working on experiments. “I remember many times when one moment we would be trying to outwit each other with riddles between wait times during experiments, and the next shift easily into conversation about the science behind each experiment.” Moments like these are what created long-lasting bonds to her fellow classmates.
When asked what advice Mona would give prospective students, she says “Do what you love and love what you do. Whether it’s in terms of your work, research project, or major, you have to pick the one that you’re passionate about no matter how hard it gets. Also, don’t forget to keep a good work-life balance!”