Five students from across the United States earned Distinguished Undergraduate Scholarships from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for their academic accomplishments in the face of adversity and commitment to increasing educational access for underrepresented students.
In its inaugural year, the scholarship program is organized by the ASBMB's Minority Affairs Committee (MAC). To recognize the accomplishments of these undergraduate society members, the MAC awarded each student a $2,000 scholarship.
"We wanted to do something that would help undergrads who are doing well in school and basically interested in the bioscience field but are facing challenges that are prohibiting them from being able to continue with their studies," said Lana Saleh, a staff scientist at New England Biolabs who spearheaded the program with Stacey Simon-Slijepcevic of the U.S. Department of Education.
The society received more than 40 applications from students with compelling narratives about overcoming significant educational, social, cultural or economic disadvantages and going on to contribute to their campus communities. Many outlined how they applied their unique experiences to help others and enhance the diversity of their academic programs.
"It is amazing to see that there are people who are just dedicated, whether it is for continuing their studies or to giving back," said Saleh. "A lot of these students were already involved in programs to give back to their communities, so we were very impressed."
Scholarship recipients demonstrated a strong interest in undertaking research that would address issues of diversity and a deep commitment to working with others. This included science outreach at inner-city schools, on-campus mentoring, and visiting community colleges and high schools to promote access to higher education for underserved groups.
"We hope that this will be just a start and that the scholarship will continue," said Saleh.
The 2015 Distinguished Undergraduate Scholarships recipients are:
Jose Reyes, Texas State University
Craig McLean, University of Arkansas
Shelby Newsad, Ohio State University (declined)
Syrena Bracey, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Matthew Cheung, St. Louis University
Nicolas Oropeza, Arizona State University
For more on the scholarship visit: http://asbmb.