Removing barriers and opening doors
Gee Egberi (’22) found a model and mentor for black women in STEM
The Black Alumni Scholarship alleviated Gee’s concerns of attending UGA. Determined to help women gain equal access to health services, she is now double majoring in biology and women’s studies.
Thanks in part to the UGA Mentor Program, Gee has found a model of success for black women in STEM. She aims to earn a Ph.D. and M.D. with encouragement from her mentor, Ansley Booker.
Ansley not only gives her time mentoring, but also volunteers on the Black Alumni Leadership Council which fundraises for the Black Alumni Scholarship, bringing her mentee relationship full-circle.
Gee Egberi’s scholarship gave her a mentor and model for successfully putting knowledge to work. Now, she’s determined to earn a Ph.D. and an M.D. to help end women’s health inequalities.
For as long as she can remember, Afokeoghene Gimbiya “Gee” Egberi ’22 has had two dreams: to become a doctor and a Bulldog. The Loganville native knew that the University of Georgia’s reputable STEM programs would help her get ahead, but she worried that taking out student loans might hinder her from affording medical school down the road. Any concerns preventing her from committing to her “dream school” were eliminated the day Gee received a Black Alumni Scholarship. This financial aid is supported by UGA donors, including The 1961 Club, a group that honors the year of desegregation at UGA by helping remove financial barriers to higher education for students.
Now that she’s a Bulldog, Gee is pushing herself to do even more—specifically dedicating her career to helping women gain equal access to social and reproductive health services. Impassioned by her cause, Gee is double majoring in biology and women’s studies and conducting research on health disparities. She aims to earn a Ph.D. to then implement her scholarly findings by becoming an OB-GYN. Gee’s ambition has been bolstered by the validation, confidence, and courage she’s gained from Dr. Ansley Booker (MS ’13) through the UGA Mentor Program.
“My scholarship made me realize that UGA really wanted me here,” said Gee. “It made me feel welcomed.”
Ansley Booker knows what it’s like to forge a career in a field that is dominated by white males and she’s honored to have the opportunity to help Gee navigate her own way. Ansley earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Georgia Southern University and a Master of Science from the UGA College of Pharmacy. As a doctoral candidate at Mercer University, she focused her dissertation on issues of low graduation rates among women and minorities in STEM. She found that mentorship is key to success, especially when students struggle to feel like they belong.
Today, Ansley is leveraging her research as the director of Mercer’s new Office of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives. She was recognized as a 2019 40 Under 40 honoree for her commitment to several nonprofits in Macon that focus on ensuring young women consider STEM as viable career paths. Mentoring Gee is a way Ansley is advancing women in STEM while also giving back to her alma mater.
Before Ansley formally became Gee’s mentor through the UGA Mentor Program, the two first bonded over their shared experiences at Dinner with a Dozen Dawgs, an intimate networking event organized by the UGA Alumni Association. Their relationship strengthened as Ansley’s involvement on the Black Alumni Leadership Council frequently brought her to campus. Today, Gee and Ansley communicate weekly, discussing everything from how to prepare for a chemistry final to what to wear to a networking event.
“Through Ansley, I’ve learned that I can’t compare myself to others. That’s the thief of joy,” said Gee. “Ansley reminds me that I’m at UGA for a reason. This motivates me to keep pushing, to focus on what I want to do. It helps knowing she’s rooting for me.”
With Ansley as her mentor, Gee has found a model of success for black women in STEM. Ansley’s steadfast support boosts Gee’s confidence when she needs it most. She’s learned that setbacks are not failures and that hard tasks are not impossible. Now, Gee is committed to enacting real, positive change in health care equality.
“I thought I had it together, but Gee is the student I wish I could have been as an undergraduate,” said Ansley. “She has such a bright future. She’s so determined, so passionate. I know she has the tenacity to overcome any obstacles.”