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Abby Perce ’24: A Passion for Medicine—and More

Campus Life

Abby Perce

Published September 15, 2020

When Abby Perce ’24 heard last year about a new “birth companion” program at the University of New Mexico Hospital in her hometown of Albuquerque, she jumped at the chance to volunteer.

“I’ve always been really interested in science—and medicine in particular,” says Perce, who is among 528 first-year students at Smith this fall. “I’m just really drawn to helping people. And I think I have some skills that aid me in doing that.”

This year’s new students include 24 Ada Comstock Scholars, 29 traditional-age transfer students, and one visiting student.

The UNM birth companion program, launched in 2019, offers physical and emotional support to low-income and incarcerated women having babies at the hospital. Perce was trained as a volunteer last spring before the program was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“My cohort included some former doctors and nurses,” she says. “We got the rundown on basic medical processes [involved in giving birth] and also on more holistic services for the mothers, like massage.”

Perce—who has also shadowed midwives and OBGYNs in her hometown—is looking forward to working with new mothers when the hospital program reopens.

This fall, she is pursuing her passion for science in her studies at Smith, with a schedule full of virtual classes in calculus and chemistry, and a STRIDE scholarship focused on research.

But STEM isn’t the only subject she’s interested in exploring during her first semester at Smith.

“I’m excited to take a lot of different classes,” Perce says, citing her first year seminar course, “The History of the American Present” as an example.

She also plans to sign up for virtual crew training—one of the Athletic Department’s Get Smith Fit courses.

“Crew is not a thing here in New Mexico,” says Perce, with a smile. “It’s so great that Smith has a walk-on program. I’m planning on trying that out.”

When was the moment she knew she wanted to be a Smithie?

“I think it was when I got a Smith T-shirt in the mail,” says Perce. “What really stood out for me was the way so many people reached out and let me know they really wanted me to come to Smith.”

The reaching out has continued in the first weeks of the semester, with virtual house meetings and small group advising sessions, and even a Zoom gathering hosted by alums in New Mexico.

“It is a bummer not to be able to be in person at Smith,” says Perce, who has yet to see the campus in person. “But there are so many things happening to keep us engaged and having a college experience. It’s a special, supportive community.”