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Black excellence in science

Cellular and molecular biology major, Tanae Nichols, shows other black girls, anything is possible

Sacramento California native, Tanae Nichols has a plan to prove to other black girls, anything is possible. Nichols is a third year at Humboldt State and is studying cellular molecular biology.

“Dealing with genetics on a molecular level, I’m able to break down how things work and function on the most basic level,” Nichols said.

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Cellular molecular biology major, Tanae Nichols sits behind Bret Hart house on Feb. 19. | Photo by Dajonea Robinson

Nichols takes this goal and brings it to life with her hands-on work as a caregiver. Growing up she had many family members with disabilities and was inspired to find out how she could help. Her love for knowledge and caring for others is what drew her to work in the field. She was also interested in internal medicine dealing with black people.

“I wanted to learn more on a developmental level, I can fix things in the body,” Nichols said.

When a Humboldt State recruiter came to her advanced placement class in high school, she became drawn to the beautiful location and the sense of community. These factors are what pushed her to attend school here.

“I’ve always been into hiking, camping and just being an outdoors girl,” Nichols said. “I am an adventurer.”

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HSU student Tanae Nichols | Photo by Dajonea Robinson

Nichols moved to Humboldt straight out of high school. She came with intentions to join the pre-med program. She also enjoyed how the school pushed a biology centered curriculum. She tried many different majors before finding a fit.

“I changed my major from general biology to environmental biology to psychology and then back to pre-med,” Nichols said.

“Continue your studies and trust in your dreams.”

Tanae Nichols

Being the first person to go to college in her family, and a black woman in science, she has felt the pressure to succeed.

“I have professors that really believe in me and tell me ‘Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it,’” Nichols said.

She takes this advice and strives forward to be a positive role model for her family back home.

With three brothers and four sisters, Nichols finds herself in the middle. Raised by two hard working parents who did not go to college, education was always important.

“My parents made sure I was put into schools that were college oriented,” Nichols said.

The charter school she attended really promoted children of color to go to college.

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HSU student Tanae Nichols | Photo by Dajonea Robinson

She is involved with the Humboldt State’s club/sisterhood, The Legacy. This group of women aim to be a home away from home for all women and a platform to connect with the Humboldt community. They do different community service events like canned food drives, beach clean-ups and mentoring girls. Nichols believes it is important to be involved with the community to be an effective doctor.

“When going into medicine, you have to learn the community you are serving,” Nichols said.

Nichols has about two more years to go until graduation. Her next steps after college are to go to medical school, do a two-year residency and eventually become a doctor. Nichols encourages other young black girls who aspire to go into the science field.

“Continue your studies and trust in your dreams,” Nichols said.

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