As a child, Chanda Jefferson fondly remembers staying after school to help her older sister, who was a kindergarten teaching assistant, in her classroom at Jefferson Elementary in rural Beech Island, South Carolina. In a school named after her great-grandfather, she spent hours talking with teachers about math, science and her favorite books. “Teaching is in my DNA,” Jefferson says. “My mother stressed the importance of education, and I developed a love for school and learning — especially science.”
During high school, Jefferson also realized she loved mentoring young people. She drove the church van, picking up students in her community to bring them to choir practice and Bible study.
“I knew then that I wanted to choose a career that would allow me to serve and help people,” Jefferson says. “That’s when I decided to become a doctor and major in biology at USC.”