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Most classes on North Campus will be held remotely through the end of the semester on December 12.

Viking Spotlight: Sydney Guerrier '21, Sociology and Biology

Sydney Guerrier double majored in biology (pre-med) and sociology, with a minor in chemistry. As he wraps up his final requirements for graduation, he strategically is preparing for medical school. Currently, Sydney is working at the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital doing patient transport. He recently was hired as an accessioning technician at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

Sydney plans to take a gap year between undergrad and medical school, during which he hopes to move into a role as a research assistant while concurrently preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). He may take additional biology and other science-based courses to prepare for medical school further.

Outside of his studies and medical school preparation, Sydney continues to explore his entrepreneurial interests.

Sociology faculty member Pamela Leong interviewed Sydney below. Learn more about the Salem State sociology department.

Let's start with some basics.  You double majored in very different disciplines:  biology and sociology.  Can you explain why you chose these two academic disciplines?

Coming in from high school to my first college, I always had an interest in sociology, but my main goal was always to pursue my M.D. so that I could become a pediatrician. With a mother that has worked in the medical field as an R.N., I have heard rumors about how past generations of doctors have become removed from the patients that they serve. Over the years, doctors have just been treating symptoms rather than the human being before them. If I am successful along my journey, I refuse to be a doctor that continues such trends and my sociology degree will arm me with the tools to break barriers of culture in order to personalize care for my patients.  


Did one discipline inform the other--for instance, did your understanding of sociology shape how you understand biology and vice-versa?

I think that academically they seemed like two very separate things outside of methodology because both areas of interest conduct research very similarly. But, in practice, I found that when I am trying to explain scientific things or summarize data, my sociological skills have been very helpful in translating that information so that it is receptive to my audience and continues to live on outside of me. 


How were you able to juggle the demands of both disciplines?

All my life I have heard that when you are passionate about something, the work never feels like work; it feels like fun. I often found a lot of comfort in knowing that I was acquiring knowledge that can help me implement change and was transferrable in any lifestyle that I chose. With that said, the most critical part about maintaining my school work was truly understanding the ways in which I learned materially initially and organically, as well as being very disciplined with my time management so that I would set realistic expectations for when I could complete assessments and maximize my time effectively.   


What advice would you give to a student who might want to major in two very different disciplines?

I think both came naturally to me. In retrospect, I would highly advise students to pair majors that do not necessarily have a set path or overlap to try and do so because I found a mental relief in taking on different course loads. There has been emerging research that has referenced the different types of learning and how the two hemispheres process different types of information, like the humanities versus the sciences. It allowed for me to approach my work or new material with fresh eyes and often experience the material in different ways than the rest of my peers. 


Given your academic demands, were you able to engage in extracurricular activities while a student at Salem State?

Yes, I was. During my time at Salem State, I served as a Residential Assistant for three out of my five semesters here (I also was a part of the Residential Life team at my former institution, Bowdoin College). Additionally, I helped revive one of Salem State's annual events, the Hip-Hop Summit, and tried to be an active member of the campus with my participation in certain MSA, LASO and Brotherhood events, when I could fit them into my schedule. 

In a past life, I also played collegiate football at my former college but was unable to continue to do so here, as [Salem State] doesn’t have a team.  


How do you think your training in sociology will shape your career in medicine?

I mentioned this a bit briefly earlier on, but I think the main thing that it will help me with is my ability to conduct myself professionally while giving my patients all the attention that they deserve. As an individual who comes from a family of first-generation immigrants, I understand that people in similar situations to me often struggle to obtain care and support from the current healthcare system. I strive to be a pediatrician and I know that a lot of the time, the youth in these families often live in a duality where they take on a lot of responsibilities at a young age that forces them to make grown-up decisions. By using sociology to understand some of those family, cultural and social dynamics, I think it will help me decrease the barrier of entry to earn my patient’s trust and deliver the best possible care that I can for them. 


You mentioned you have entrepreneurial pursuits. Could you explain more?

My main priority is acting as a DJ manager for Deejayniic, @yonotniic on Instagram. We navigate a few different fields but mainly you can find us in the college and club circuit. We are also available for private events and certain corporate events. In addition to that, I co-own a relatively new clothing line known as Hugs N Kisses along with local artist Don Dzy and a peer and fellow student Trinady Jackson. The brand is focused on highlighting the struggles that we deal with regarding mental health and normalizing ways that we can find support and navigate through these spaces without our battles weighing us down. Lastly, I manage a photographer/videographer @allstarrevans @allstarrmedia on Instagram.  

I also make time to perform in roles for a few other brands as an ambassador in various capacities. For some, I act as an early investor; for others, I am a representative of their mission and operate in a regional manner to complete tasks to expand their brand.  


Anything else? 

Some of the extracurriculars in which I participated at my old school, at Bowdoin College, included:

  • Former membership of the Black Student Union as a first-year representative and as the Minister of Public Relations
  • Founding member of the Athletes of Color Coalition  
  • Did service work at the local soup kitchen
  • Helped organize the Special Olympics
  • Completed EMT coursework 
Pamela Leong
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