Teressa Akuoko earns USG Academic Recognition Day Award at VSU

May 9—VALDOSTA — Teressa Akuoko of Lake Park is the recipient of Valdosta State University's 2023-2024 University System of Georgia Academic Recognition Day Award.

Akuoko was recognized during VSU's annual Academic Honors and Awards Dinner on April 25.

The University System of Georgia Academic Recognition Day Award is presented to a student who has a perfect 4.0 grade point average, represents the USG's and VSU's best qualities, strives for excellence, and has the ability to share knowledge in various areas of expertise.

"Achieving this award is a spectacular testament to all of the family members, friends, and mentors who have supported me throughout my time at VSU," she said. "Their encouragement has emboldened me with the belief that I can face and learn from any barrage of challenges that may come my way, knowing that I have the ability to overcome them."

Akuoko graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a Minor in Chemistry, and an Honors College Certificate in December 2023. She currently works as a medical assistant at Cole Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, where she assists with the removal of skin cancers through surgical intervention.

"I am applying for medical school this June, including combined Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs, and I plan to become a dermatologist," she said. "Additionally, I specifically aim to engage in medical research."

Highlights of Akuoko's time as a student at VSU include the following: — Conducting molecular genetics and bioinformatics research under the direction of Dr. Ansul Lokdarshi, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, and having her work, "Modulation of GCN2 Activity Under Excess Light Stress by Osmoprotectants and Amino Acids," published in the Journal of Plant Signaling & Behavior. — Founding the Affinity Groups of the Honors College and learning how to build an organization, from managing promotional materials to writing a constitution to rallying membership. — Helping develop the Young Chemist's Committee of Student Members of the American Chemical Society and contributing to outreach efforts designed to encourage local elementary and middle school students to love and explore science. — Learning from the wisdom of her professors and mentors on campus. — Running back to her car because she forgot her lab equipment — again.

Her family includes mother Janet Akuoko, father Kenneth Akuoko, brother Daniel Akuoko, and sister Joanne Akuoko. She is originally from Tema, Ghana.