Cheyenne Mercer

Biochemistry and Cell Biology :: Lucy and Jim Haugh Town & Gown Scholar

Cheyenne is an extraordinarily busy young woman who takes full advantage of the experiential and social side of college, as well as academic. A member of several student organizations ranging in focus from medical careers to snowboarding, she not only participates but often takes a leadership position: She is the president of ULMSPs Alumni Organization and, alongside her colleagues, helped in the founding of HomelessHEAL, a service org that promotes health awareness and education outreach to homeless shelters. Other volunteer work includes caring for injured birds at Project Wildlife and helping collect food for those in need through UCSD's Food Recovery Network.

To pay for her education, first at Mesa Community College and now UC San Diego, she’s held a number of jobs such as tutoring, retail sales, nannying and weekends at the Little Italy and Encinitas farmer’s markets selling healthy snacks.

With all this activity in her life, Cheyenne remains very focused on her coursework, and feels the pressure. “Statistically speaking, success for a first-generation college student is lower than for most who are not. When I factor in how my younger sister is following the path that I pave, I can’t help but feel the weight on my shoulders. The pressure has not deterred me though, and I have managed to assemble academic roads and networks of my own that have accelerated me forward, into a very real and successful future.”

Cheyenne’s career goal is “to become a force of change and a voice for the voiceless. I see myself becoming a physician who will go on to serve the underserved San Diego communities. Healthcare to me is a fundamental and basic human right that extends to all.” This decision was solidified by a pivotal experience…

“Last October, at 7 AM on my 22nd birthday, my friend and fellow Triton Sadaf and I taught HomelessHEAL’s first health education class at San Diego Rescue Mission. We presented on the science behind nicotine and alcohol abuse to a class of 100 homeless men enrolled in San Diego Rescue Mission's one-year recovery program. It was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. To have men who have experienced trauma beyond anything I could ever imagine come up to me, shake my hand, share their stories and their gratitude for our organization’s presence, brought me to tears.”

In her work, Cheyenne hopes to be a model for change. “I’m a dedicated woman of science and I want to offer my science background and femininity to younger girls who feel the weight of gender pressures. I want to tell our youth that they are good enough to become whoever they want, and they too can become forces of change in our society.”

A force she is, and intends to be. “I want to challenge the scary, the supposedly unsolvable, complicated and messy problems. I want to get my hands dirty with like-minded people in order to challenge injustice and promote equal access to healthcare and environmentally sustainable lifestyles. The purpose of my involvement is to be a voice for the voiceless, to make sure no one turns a blind eye to very real and serious problems that will not simply vanish.”

Cheyenne Mercer