STEM Star!

Fri Dec 3, 2021 at 10:56 AM

S. Diggs S. Diggs

As a lab technician in the Lahondère and Vinauger Labs at Virginia Tech, Staunton native and Blue Ridge Community College graduate, Shajaesza Diggs is pursuing her love of biochemistry through hands-on research of mosquito behavior!

After graduating from Staunton High School, Shajaesza chose BRCC because, “I thought it would be a great way to save money and earn college credit for the four-year institution of my choice.”

Shajaesza thrived at BRCC and took advantage of student activities, including the STEM Club and Adventure Club. An outstanding student during her BRCC tenure, she was awarded the Henry C. Clark and Mary Ann B. Clark Endowed Scholarship in 2018-19.

As the STEM Club President, she credits working closely with professors John Maxfield and Robert Oliver with influencing her decision to pursue a STEM career. “Shajaesza was an excellent president,” said Maxfield. “She led the club in a variety of activities, including a computer-controlled jack o'lantern, a soldering workshop, and a DNA transformation lab.”

But her involvement at BRCC wasn’t limited to the classroom and club activities; she worked as a peer tutor in the Center for Academic Vision and Excellence (The CAVE), and as a student librarian in the Houff Library.

Shajaesza said that all of these experiences at BRCC “gave me a great foundation and deepened my love for STEM.” She was also quick to acknowledge the support and kindness she experienced during her time at BRCC – from professors, transfer advisor, coworkers and friends.

From BRCC she decided to continue that drive for a STEM career by transferring to Virginia Tech.

“I chose VT because I really loved their Biochemistry program. They are one of the top schools in Virginia for research,” she explained. And she added, “The campus is great, and the people are amazing.”

Graduating from VT in May of 2021 with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biochemistry, Shajaesza is currently applying for admissions to graduate school for a Master of Science in Biochemistry and is continuing her research in the labs at Tech.  “I am doing research in the olfactory rhythms of mosquitoes, and I am also running experiments on the activity of mosquitoes during a day and night period,” she said. The purpose of her research is to gain insight into mosquito behavior in terms of disease transmission.