2020 – Gainesville, Florida
Niisoja graduated from Eastside High School in Gainesville, Florida after completing the International Baccalaureate Program. Throughout high school, he was quite involved in Student Government, culminating in his election as Student Body President senior year. He also served as captain of his speech and debate team and as a vice chair and the only student on his high school’s School Advisory Council. Out of all of his experiences in high school, his participation in the United States Senate Youth Program confirmed his desire to dedicate his life to public service. During this program, he served as one of two Florida delegates and had the incredible opportunity of meeting President Barack Obama and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S Supreme Court among other high ranking officials. While interested in government, Niisoja also has a particular interest in the life sciences. Interestingly, Niisoja conducted research for a year while in high school at the University of Florida on…invasive fruit flies!
At Duke, Niisoja plans to major in Public Policy, minor in Global Health, and simultaneously be on a pre-medicine track. In other words, he has a difficult next three years ahead of him. He is particularly passionate about global health. His interest in global health stems from the undue health burdens populations all around the world (including in the US) face because of characteristics that those populations can often times not change about themselves. Because of this interest, he plans on studying global health issues abroad this summer in rural areas of South Africa with the Organization for Tropical Studies. He hopes in the future to be able to apply policy solutions to health-related problems.
Outside of class, Niisoja dances with Duke Swing, sits on the President’s Council for Black Affairs, and serves as a senator on the Equity and Outreach Committee of Duke Student Government. He likes quiet Friday nights watching movies with his friends, eating corndogs with a fork and knife, and telling the same ‘funny’ stories over and over again.
Niisoja is so grateful for the Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholarship Program, and he is excited by the prospect of the enriching experiences to come at Duke.