Eight Northwestern students granted STEM scholarships by The Alumnae of Northwestern University

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Alumnae of Northwestern University has selected eight students to receive 2018-2019 Alumnae of Northwestern University STEM scholarships, which are awarded to students who excel in a STEM major (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Criteria for selection include academic excellence and financial need. The intent of this scholarship is to free students from work commitments so they may more vigorously pursue their chosen area of study and other university endeavors.

“Our members are proud to support these talented and hard-working students pursuing STEM careers in diverse fields, allowing them to continue their studies, do research and actively participate in campus life,” said Ida Cardone, 2018-2019 chair of The Alumnae’s STEM Fellowship Committee. “It was challenging for our committee to select eight recipients from a large field of deserving applicants.”

2018-2019 Recipients:

Victoria Blaga, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences ’20, neuroscience, from West Bloomfield, Michigan, has distinguished herself at Northwestern by being on the dean’s list every quarter between Fall 2017 and Winter 2018. Further, she is a QuestBridge Scholar, a 2017-1018 STEM Scholar, and she has earned the Rensselaer Medal Award in Math and Science. She began a Ukrainian Club at Northwestern in order to bring her rich culture to campus. She plans to attend medical school and begin her own practice. She is exceptionally enthusiastic about neuroscience and wishes to make it part of her future career.

Kayla Carter, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences ’20, chemical engineering, from Lake Oswego, Oregon, is a prior STEM Scholar Awardee (2017-2018). Further, she won the D. Mickelson Engineering Scholarship and the 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Grant. She describes a devastating amount of adversity that she has overcome with resilience, strength and hope. She is committed to pursuing the area of synthetic biology and nanobiotechnological engineering research in graduate school. She also plans to advocate for women and minorities in STEM.

Claire Hilburger, McCormick ’20, biomedical engineering, from Naperville, Illinois, was awarded a University Research Assistant Program grant for summer research last year, and last quarter, she received the McCormick High Honors Award for achieving a 4.0 grade average. She is eager to pursue graduate studies. She currently works in a bioengineering lab, where she attempts to optimize artificial carriers for future use in drug delivery. She has remained fully confident in herself regardless of what she describes as societal barriers to women in STEM. She seeks to become a role model for other women with aspirations in STEM.

Phoebe (Siyoon) Kwon, Weinberg College ’20, materials science, from Scottsdale, Arizona, has distinguished herself by being on the dean’s list for all seven quarters she has been at Northwestern. She also received the J.G. Nolan Endowed Scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year. Last summer she was part of the Posner Fellowship, where she researched synthetic organic chemistry and drug development for Human African Trypanosomiasis and was accepted into the Mayo Clinic’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Her primary goal is to attend graduate school to seek out research opportunities to find new drugs, therapeutics and technologies to enhance medical care, especially for the underserved. She independently found mentors to support her endeavors in a climate that she describes as lacking in support for women and underrepresented minorities. She is a part of the Northwestern University Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers.

Andre Schweitzer, McCormick ’20, industrial engineering, from Rio De Janeiro, hopes to simultaneously obtain a master’s degree in transportation systems. While in high school, he led a community service organization that received first place in the Brazil Prudential Spirit of Community Award competition. He was selected as salutatorian and best performing math student in his high school graduating class. At Northwestern, he was on the dean’s list three times and received two high honors in math. He hopes to work in developing economies, especially in Latin America, to create and maintain efficient transportation systems, especially in terms of logistic planning and long-term returns. He describes the challenges he has faced as an international student to “catch up” with classmates who have stronger backgrounds than he, for example, in chemistry.

Lauren Virginia Simitz McCormick ’21, chemical engineering, is from Walnut Creek, California. In high school, she was class valedictorian and received her district’s highest math award. At Northwestern, she was on the dean’s list with honors for fall and winter quarter. In freshman year, she was awarded a $4,000 grant from the Environmental Engineering Department and received a design award with her team for a solar-powered car. She was selected for the University of California Berkley’s graduate business program for aspiring entrepreneurs and aspires to be an environmental expert, investigating sustainable technology and creating green legislation. She plans to pursue graduate work abroad that focuses on the preservation of health and the planet. Being female and Native American has led to challenges for Simitz, who describes her tribe as viewing chemical engineering as a way the oil industry threatens their way of life. She reports male colleagues and her research group treating her differently because she is a woman. She has sought support by working with the student government and the Society for Women Engineers.

Abigail Smith, McCormick ’21, industrial engineering, from Aurora, Colorado, was valedictorian of her high school class, received multiple departmental awards and was a four year varsity athlete. At Northwestern, she was selected to be a Murphy Scholar through the Murphy Institute within McCormick. Further, she has started her own company, RefundGenius. Through her STEM studies, she hopes to have the tools to answer difficult questions through unconventional solutions. In her first quarter of freshman year, she reports learning a vital lesson through her design class. The requirement was to overcome a problem and work as a team with a real-world client. She and her team needed to work with a plethora of professional people and make the best decisions they could.

Javan Whitney-Warner, McCormick ’20, chemical engineering, from Columbia, Missouri, is a QuestBridge, Ryan, and National Merit Scholar. Additionally, she made the dean’s list for two quarters and is an active member of Engineers for a Sustainable World’s Smart Tree Project team. She has two main goals as she pursues her studies in chemical engineering: to save the world through green technology and to improve the livelihoods of people with chronic illnesses through drug development. An important challenge for her is that no one in her family has had the education she now pursues. Further, she has a painful medical condition, but that did not prevent her from taking a significant chemistry exam – an accomplishment she considers one of her greatest while at Northwestern.