Campus & community, People, Profiles

Transfer Novene Cusseaux: ‘I want to find out something new’

When Cusseaux was 29, she found out she had a genetic bone disease. Years later, she's a genetics and plant biology major at Berkeley, where she hopes to do breakthrough research.

Portrait of Novene Cusseaux smiling

Transfer student Novene Cusseaux, from Vallejo, California, plans to study genetics and plant biology. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

“I plan to study genetics and plant biology. When I took a biology class, I liked learning about the complexity of plants. I love genetics. I have a genetic bone disease, so that’s another thing that got me interested in it. It’s called Paget’s disease of bone. I found out I had it when I was 29. It’s sort of like osteoporosis — it’s a thickening or hollowing of the bone. They kind of become brittle. They get deformed over time. There’s no cure, so far.

I just feel like, with genetics, there are a lot of things that haven’t been discovered yet. I just want to find out something new that we didn’t know existed. That’s what I’m hoping to do.

I always told my children that it was important for them to go to college. When my oldest son was in college, that’s when I had time. I had broken my leg from my bone disease, so I wasn’t working. I thought, “Now it should be my time to show my kids that you can do it at any age. You need to practice what you preach.” So, that’s why I’m here.

After I graduate, I want to do research, and I also want to have a nonprofit organization that helps younger people get excited about STEM. I want to help them learn how to go to the next level, from high school to college or trade school — whatever they want to do.”