Shayla Gramajo '22 Advocates for Students and Patients During the Pandemic

A biology major and chemistry minor, Gramajo is gaining first-hand healthcare experience.

Shayla Gramajo in hospital wearing a maskA biology major and chemistry minor in the School of Science at Manhattan College, Shayla Gramajo ’22 is using the skills she’s learned in the classroom to provide support to hospitals during the current pandemic.

As a freshman, Gramajo assumed leadership of the Operation Smile club, in which students support the nonprofit medical service organization well-known for performing cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries in medically underserved areas of the world. Despite the pandemic, Gramajo managed to make six club events happen in the fall of 2020, including a do-it-your way 5K to raise funds for Operation Smile in October.

“Shayla is a first-generation college student," says Grishma Shah, Ph.D., associate professor of management and marketing at Manhattan College. "Her parents immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala and Shayla has seized not only the opportunities given to her, but become an asset to the College and wider community."

In addition to her academic and cocurricular responsibilities, Gramajo is working as a contact tracer for United Healthcare Group and as a certified nurse aide at a Westchester County nursing home. 

Gramajo plans to pursue a career as a physician assistant. "I love the idea of being able to collaborate with the physicians and learn from other essential members in the medical team," she says. "I also want to be an advocate for my patients by providing care and truly listening to their needs while creating a difference in their lives."

By Pete McHugh