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Mihaela Suciu

Mihaela Suciu’s childhood and adolescent years present a sobering timeline.

Born and raised in Romania, the Mason junior experienced an abusive and alcoholic father, her parents’ subsequent divorce, and several moves—all by the age of 11. But the most devastating blow came when Suciu was only 13 and her mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The disease quickly spread to her brain, and within two years her mother passed away.

Mihaela Suciu, who lost her mother to cancer, plans to attend medical school and specialize in neuro-oncology. Photo by Ron Aira

But for this neuroscience major [1], those challenges were no match for her determination to persevere and not be defined by what came before. “I want people to remember my family not because their life had a sad ending, but because their impact on my life has had lasting and positive effects,” she says.

After her mother’s passing, Suciu moved to the United States and finished high school, but she was unsure about how she would be able to afford her dreams of a higher education. Several Mason scholarships, including the May La Due Bishop Book Fund and the Wise Investors Endowed Scholarship, helped make it happen. Suciu says that “receiving these funds not only helped me attend a wonderful institution but also fed my motivation to learn and challenge myself to grow. With each new scholarship I received, a new seed of success and a new set of goals was planted in my mind.”

For Suciu—who says she wants to attend medical school and specialize in neuro-oncology—learning how to battle the disease that killed her mother is one of the primary drivers for her interest in the field. But her plans don’t just end there. She is determined to take what she learns back to Romania, a country where health care options are extremely limited.

“I am striving to become a doctor and create nonprofit facilities, which will help countries such as Romania,” she says. “Throughout my life and career, I want to inspire other people to ally with me and fight for better health care and hospital conditions not only in Eastern Europe, but all over the world.”

For now, Suciu has found her place at Mason, as well as something more. “Entering college lacking a ‘traditional’ family, I was able to create a new family at Mason,” she says. “[They’ve] been my support system and helped motivate me to make my dreams come true.”

Go back to the feature story. [2]