Learning to Let Her Voice Be Heard

I think being a campus leader definitely helped because it’s made me more outspoken.” —Amari Tankard CC’17 ​

When Amari Tankard CC’17 got to Columbia, she was apprehensive about speaking in large groups.

But after studying abroad in Paris, where she acclimated to a new culture during Spring 2016, and serving as president of Proud Colors, an LGBTQ group for students of color, Tankard is not afraid to let her voice be heard.

“When I was a first year, I definitely had an apprehension of speaking up in groups in an academic setting,” she said. “I think being a campus leader definitely helped because it’s made me more outspoken.”

Tankard, a chemistry major from the Bronx, joined the board of Proud Colors in Fall 2014 as a sophomore and then became president the next fall, running it even while she was abroad. Under her leadership, membership has grown from eight to more than 30 students, and she worked to bring New York Daily News columnist Shaun King to speak on campus in October 2016.

Tankard brings the same passion and newfound candor to her research, which hits close to home. She has always been interested in diseases – cancer runs in her family – and so has decided to go into research. She will work next year at Kadmon Holdings, a biopharmaceutical company based in New York, and then hopes to go to graduate school for a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences.

In Her Own Words

“When I was younger, I didn’t really understand [cancer], so I thought, why not investigate it and see what’s happening? I was confused by the science of it and that’s when I decided I wanted to cure cancer, when I was 10. Being a woman and black and in science is a rare combination. I want to be the researcher behind making more effective drugs. You think how cancer spreads and how it’s a form of cell regulation, so what [we can] fix or change is how our medications are affecting healthy tissue and how they’re targeting abnormal cells.” —Amari Tankard CC’17 ​

Corinne Lestch SOA’18 is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has worked for the New York Daily News, where she received a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York, and is currently getting her M.F.A. in creative writing at Columbia's School of the Arts. She received a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University in 2010.

Published Monday May 15, 2017

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