I’ve learned that I can truly do what I set my mind to

Kiley Dugan

Name: Kiley Dugan ’22
Hometown: Springfield, Massachusetts
Academics: biological sciences major, psychology minor
Pronouns: she/her

By Brittany King

For Kiley Dugan, attending an elite college was a dream that didn’t feel possible until she received a financial aid scholarship from Mount Holyoke. “As someone who comes from a low income background and had to pay for school myself, receiving a scholarship was a huge deciding factor.”

Dugan grew up in the area and had heard positive things about Mount Holyoke, but it was a discussion with her aunt, Alicia Dugan ’93 that really piqued her interest. 

“She’s in her 50s now and told me that she is still best friends with a lot of the people she went to college with,” she explained. “The opportunity to find a community of people who had similar interests and to make lifelong friendships really drew me to the school.” 

Dugan may have entered college looking for her people, but she’s graduating with more than she ever dreamed of. As a biology major and psychology minor, Dugan has been running her own genetic research for two years under the mentorship of her advisor, Professor Craig Woodard, in his lab. Dr. Woodard’s lab specifically looks at the role steroids can play on cancerous cells in the human body. He and the students in his lab study this by looking at fruit flies. 

Dugan’s independent research focuses on the spread of cancerous cells throughout the body. Studying this phenomenon in fruit flies allows her to make inferences about how human bodies react to tumors as well. 

“Working in a lab has been a great opportunity. Not only have I made friends who have similar academic interests as I do, but working in the lab shows employers that I’m able to come up with my own research project. To have the experience on my resume shows that I can do that work and lead a research project on my own.”

If Dugan had to sum up what her time at Mount Holyoke has taught her, it’d be to dream big. 

“At Mount Holyoke I’ve learned that I can truly do what I set my mind to. Before, I’d let people convince me that my goals were too big to be thinking about at 18 years old, but when I got to Mount Holyoke, everyone made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted to do,” she said. “No one minimized my goals; their actions communicated that they believed in me.”