From High School to Higher Education: Naomie Gandaho’s path to becoming a neurosurgeon [Student Spotlight]

Mount Dora High School Senior Naomie Gandaho is pursuing her dreams in the Health Sciences Collegiate Academy (HSCA) at Lake-Sumter State College. This full-time dual enrollment program allows high school students to graduate with their high school diploma while simultaneously obtaining their Associate’s Degree. HSCA provides students with hands-on experience in the medical field. “It really does a great job of preparing us for our future endeavors,” says Gandaho.

During her sophomore year of high school, Gandaho learned about the HSCA program. “I am grateful to have been accepted as I have learned so much from the program,” she says. “It has taught me a lot, both academically and personally.” Gandaho has also taken on an ambassador role within HSCA. “As an ambassador, I am assigned six students, a grade below me, whom I mentor,” shares Gandaho. “Knowing the program can be stressful, I plan fun activities so that they can enjoy themselves and prioritize their mental health as well.” In addition to her time in the HSCA, Gandaho is an honor society member of Phi Theta Kappa and the National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS) at LSSC.

Gandaho spent her childhood in Benin, a small country in West Africa, moving to the United States when she was 14 years old. She shared that adjusting to the move was challenging because of how different Benin and the United States are culture-wise. Not only was the culture different, but with French as her first language, Gandaho had to learn English when she moved. “Although I have an accent, I am fluent in English now and have adapted to the American culture, even the food,” she said.

Ever since she was a child, Gandaho has wanted to be a doctor. “I was unsure of what type of doctor, but I am now convinced I want to be a neurosurgeon,” she shared. Learning about the nervous system in Biology and Psychology was so fascinating. “The brain is so delicate, and I would love to learn more and get a deep understanding of it,” she said.

Besides her love of the sciences, Gandaho shares a passion for mathematics. She shared that her favorite class at LSSC is Calculus. “I enjoy working on the proofs – they are algebra-heavy and are like a puzzle to me,” she said. Gandaho finds it fun to figure out the best problem-solving methods.

Not only does Gandaho love learning, but she also enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. Last year she began working in the math emporium, tutoring other students in mathematics. Just this spring, she has expanded her tutoring to the Learning Center and helps out with science and math courses. Gandaho shared that she enjoys tutoring her friends. “It’s nice to see them do well on their tests after tutoring sessions.”

Gandaho appreciates the many opportunities at Lake-Sumter State College – from student employment to all of the events Student Life organizes. “These events are really helpful as they allow students to relax and have fun after a long week of studying,” she shared.

If she were to describe LSSC in one word, Gandaho would choose motivating. “Seeing everyone work together, create study groups, and get out of their comfort zone is very motivating,” she said. She appreciates how faculty and staff members continuously support students throughout their journey. “I love being a Lakehawk; LSSC encourages learning and cares about their students,” said Gandaho.

To learn more about the Health Sciences Collegiate Academy, visit