Fa'alataitaua Malietoa Fitisemanu '24

Fa’alataitaua (Taua) Malietoa Fitisemanu ’24

Fa’alataitaua Melietoa Fitisemanu ’24 came to Wesleyan as a swimmer and an athletics recruit. He remembers sitting in on an etymology class during his first visit. While a lot of the content went over his head, what didn’t was how involved and engaged all the students were. It was, he recalls, like the professor was there to start the conversation and let it roll—not to pound info into their student’s heads. It’s a big part of what attracted him: stepping off the sidelines into an intellectual world as active and engaged as he’d experienced through athletics. 

As a senior, Taua is a self-propelled student with momentum—just like those who’d initially impressed him. “At Wes,” he says, “everyone has big dreams. Mine is starting a lab for students of color”—an idea that springs from his experiences being part of a large Samoan family in Salt Lake City, and from learning first-hand how a positive environment fuels curiosity, engagement, and impact. Taua’s a student of Molecular Biology, specifically he’s researching how the different proteins in our bodies bind to metals, such as copper, too much or too little of which leads to muscular diseases. “If we can find out how metals play a role in these diseases, we can develop therapies to target them.” It’s work that’s led to an internship at the NIH and it’s one he plans to continue through graduate school. Taua isn’t slowing down and heading back to the sidelines. He’s going to start his lab and help communities gain increased access to vaccines and other therapies.