By Liz Perry, Alumni Guest Blogger
Bellevue University student Dayana Montano Salama is on the path to becoming a surgeon, but she’s already impressing everyone around her. She recently accomplished a huge first when she was published by the American Society of Microbiology.
Beginning Her Path
A native of El Salvador, Montano Salama’s parents moved the family to Nebraska to be close to a relative who had previously moved to the U.S. While in high school, a counselor told her about the scholarship opportunities at Bellevue University.
“That motivated me to apply to Bellevue University, because I knew that, with my sister and I applying to college at the same time, we would not get much support from our parents,” she said. “I was blessed to win a scholarship that covers everything except for books.”
Sharing the Experience
Montano Salama’s sister is her twin, and both young women decided to attend Bellevue University. While Dayana chose a major in biology, her sister is majoring in computer information systems.
“I think going to the same college as my twin is interesting,” she said. “We are like a team, and help each other, even though we have different majors.”
Making Strides in Science
Science was a clear choice for Montano Salama, and she felt biology would be a challenging subject that would help her build on her critical thinking skills.
“I thought majoring in biology would help me to think critically, so when I had to apply to med school, I will have that skill,” she said. “I also chose biology because I am curious about the living world, and hope to maybe one day discover something that will benefit society.”
Now a junior, Montano Salama has already embraced the opportunities provided by her science classes at Bellevue University. During one of her classes, she sequenced the genome sequence of a species of bacteria. However, she was not able to publish a paper on that bacteria because the genome had a close match with another bacteria of the same name.
“That motivated me to continue to do more genome sequences until I could publish one,” she said. To accomplish this, she continued to volunteer on the genome project after her class had ended.
Montano Salama said she hopes this paper is the first of many. “When I learned that I had my first research paper published, I had a feeling of accomplishment and a thirst for more,” she said. “I believe that the first step is always the most difficult, but once you break the barrier, you can accomplish anything. In getting the research paper published, I learned that I can accomplish anything I challenge myself to do.”
Learning Even More
Montano Salama will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in June 2021. She is still deciding which master’s program she will choose for continuing her path, but she is excited about the future. She is considering an M.D. or M.D./ Ph.D. program. “I am still deciding, and I am eager to see what I will decide to do in the end.” Either way, she will accomplish great things, and Bellevue University is proud to have been part of helping Montano Salama begin her journey.