Countless men and women graduate from college each year hoping to improve their own lives, but Ruthly François is hoping to improve the lives of others.

François received her bachelor of science degree in Biology, summa cum laude, from Suffolk University in May and will enter a two-year post-baccalaureate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall, taking classes and conducting research for a biotech company in Cambridge.

Her goal is to earn both an MD and a PhD so that she can work in both medicine and research.

“I figure it’s going to take about eight years of my life to make this happen, but it’ll be worth it,” says François.

Involved on and off campus

When she first arrived at Suffolk University from Haiti in 2009, a fellow student told François that the best way to enjoy Suffolk was to get involved.

François took that advice to heart and began participating as a diversity peer educator and in groups such as the Black Student Union and the Biology Honor Society.

Her most rewarding and memorable experiences, however, stem from her volunteerism. She was both a participant and a leader in Alternative Spring Break programs, building homes in Georgia and planting trees in Virginia.

Away from campus, François’s involvement included volunteering at the Sharewood Clinic in Malden and at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as coaching SAT Math and College Choice to underprivileged high school students in the Boston area.

“The most rewarding part of volunteering is knowing that you have made a difference in another person’s life,” she says.

Acquiring people skills

“I was shy when I first came to school here, but that’s not the case now, she says. “The best things that Suffolk taught me are how to relate to people and how to become a better leader.”

Her dream job is to be a neonatologist, providing medical care for infants.

“Usually, we start helping people when they are older,” she says. “But I want to start helping people when they are young.”