May 3, 2022

A "Dave" of All Trades

David Suisse smiles at an interviewer in front of a large bookcase
David Suisse

Global comm major earning five additional minors receives two prestigious college awards 

By Kelsie Holman, CHaSS Communications Journalist

When listing David Suisse’s academic accomplishments at this year’s College of Humanities a Social Sciences Awards ceremony, the announcer was forced to take a breath in between all of his majors and minors because of the sheer number of subjects he has studied during his time at Utah State University. This year, Suisse, a senior majoring in global communications with minors in French, linguistics, chemistry, biology and anticipatory intelligence, was honored by CHaSS as the recipient of both the Undergraduate Researcher of the Year and Scholar of the Year awards.

Suisse grew up in North Ogden, Utah and came to USU because of a long legacy of Aggies in his family. He heard that USU was invested in the student experience and wanted to go to a college that would help him pursue his passions. After meeting with a Suzanne Winn, an advisor in CHaSS, he realized he could pursue both his scientific interests with his communications interests and have them work together.

Whether presenting biology research with the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences or studying human longevity for the Center for Anticipatory Intelligence, Suisse has done it all during his time at USU. According to his professors, Suisse has a real passion for people and for studying ways to make things more inclusive and accessible.

Of all the faculty that Suisse worked with during his time at USU, many members wanted to claim him as a student they discovered.

“He jumped into the undergrad research early on in his undergrad career in ways that a lot of students don’t think to. He acts as a mentor a lot to the other undergrad research mentors on the team,” said Sydney O’Shay, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Philosophy.

Suisse’s current research involves studying the stigma surrounding mental health and substance abuse treatment. With a team of two other undergraduates and several faculty members, they hope to shed light on the effects of stigma in healthcare. His goal in this research is to help people understand that the things they do and say, especially in the medical field, have a huge everyday impact on the people around them.

“If we can help realize what [doctor’s] patients are experiencing, hopefully, they will be more aware of their interactions with marginalized communities and hopefully we can improve both healthcare and personal interactions,” said Suisse.

Suisse’s success in research is due, in part, to the interdisciplinary nature of CHaSS and its programs. Every program in CHaSS works well with each other, which allows for students like Suisse to pursue any avenue that is interesting to them.

“I love CHaSS because of the everyday application of being able to understand and work with people who aren’t like you and people who have experienced totally different things than you have. It’s just life skills,” said Suisse.

CHaSS programs are set up for interdisciplinary collaborations and the coursework is applicable to many different fields of research and types of projects outside of an academic setting. The college has many different undergraduate research options for their students and encourages them to get involved with several different areas of study.

“David has pursued everything that is interesting to him. The lesson to learn is to not put yourself on a single track, there is so much out there to learn,” said Karin Dejonge-Kannan, principal lecturer in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.

 “Being a major in CHaSS isn’t enough, you have to engage in the course if you want to take away something valuable. I think it is all about changing the way you communicate and the way you interact with other people,” said Suisse.


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