I became a Lombardi Scholar in 2003, where I studied Electrical Engineering, minored in Physics, and engaged in a number of extracurricular activities. The Lombardi Scholars Program provided a unique outlet to explore the world and push my personal and professional development into overdrive. These experiences were instrumental in my desire to become a socially conscious engineer who wanted to do more for the world than use a soldering iron. After UF, I became a high school science teacher in a low-income community through Teach For America; I taught a freshman-level general science course, developed a Forensic Science course, acted as the National Honor Society sponsor, and became the local Science Fair Coordinator. I am now a third year PhD candidate in the Berkeley-UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering, where I focus on low-cost, easily-scalable imaging and sensing technologies for body composition. I am passionate about STEM education and plan on developing sustainable and successful science research programs for low-income students across the country.
As a high school senior, I hoped that a top university would accept me – and that I could afford to attend. My prayers were answered in the Lombardi Scholarship. It gave me the chance to remain near my family, to graduate without debt, and to see the world.
At UF, the Lombardi Scholarship prepared me for my studies and future career. For example, our cohort of eight took a professional development class focused on prestigious scholarships and graduate school. Using those skills, I successfully applied for a Fulbright Fellowship and spent the year after graduation working in economic development in Guatemala. Thanks to my Lombardi summer in Mexico (and my subsequent studies at UF), I spoke Spanish fluently and felt comfortable living in Latin America.
Mindful of the privilege I enjoyed, I made sure to give back to UF as president of the Student Honors Organization and an Honors Ambassador. Community service sparked my interest in social justice, and I chose to attend law school to learn more. Now, as I counsel clients from different cultures, I draw on my experiences studying abroad. I credit the Lombardi Scholarship in large part with making me a competent lawyer and a more thoughtful human being.
I did not fully appreciate the true value of the Lombardi program until recently. Of course the international travel and funding was exciting coming out of high school. But now, seven years after having been awarded the scholarship, I cannot overstate how much more freedom I have as a young adult because I am not saddled with debt from student loans. Moreover, I have an internationally focused job in a premiere world city (London) thanks in large part to the global exposure I enjoyed as a student. My leadership experience has allowed me to excel here, and become the youngest ‘Deputy Head’ in the company. Most importantly, and I do mean most, through the Lombardi program I met an astounding group of impressive, engaged, interesting people. These are people who shaped my worldview, challenged me, and supported me. And of course, we shared quite a few laughs along the way.
I am a 2010 graduate of the University of Florida. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, I earned a degree in biochemistry with highest honors and was recipient of the Colonel Allen R. and Margaret G. Crow Award as the outstanding graduate in the Department of Chemistry. As an undergraduate, I was involved in several undergraduate research programs, including the Beckman Scholars, HHMI Science for Life, and CPIMA REU programs that gave me the opportunity to pursue biotechnology and engineering research on campus and at Stanford University. These research experiences culminated in the publication of three research articles and several national presentations. After graduating from UF, I entered the Ph.D. program in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, where I was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Harvard-MIT HST Division MEMP Graduate Fellowship, as well as was named a Harvard-MIT HST Division Martinos Scholar. Through the Lombardi Scholars program, I had the privilege to travel abroad during my undergraduate years, and these experiences taught me the value of cultural understanding and global cooperation. Inspired by my travels abroad, I decided last year to move from Boston to Singapore in order to take advantage of Asia’s increasing importance in the global economy as well as to gain critical exposure to the region’s emerging markets. Thus after my first year in graduate school, I transferred to the Ph.D. program in Materials Science and Engineering at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore where I was reunited with my former mentor from Stanford University. I was the first Westerner to be awarded the Nanyang President’s Graduate Scholarship, and I hope to pursue an entrepreneurial career in education and healthcare. I credit the University of Florida Lombardi Scholarship Program with instilling early on in my career the importance of goal-setting and perseverance to achieve one’s dreams.
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