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Urban Students Receive Math and Science Scholarships


Dr. Bernard Harris Jr.

WASHINGTON–Four high school seniors have been selected by the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) to receive the 2015 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship. The students have been chosen from several hundred applicants across the country for their academic performance, leadership qualities and community involvement.

The scholarship is now in its sixth year, and was created by former NASA astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris Jr., the first African American to walk in space, and ExxonMobil, in order to assist and encourage promising students of diverse backgrounds, who plan to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies, officials said.

The awards are given annually to African-American and Hispanic high school seniors in the 67 urban school districts CGCS represents.

“These highly-competitive scholarships provide an enormous opportunity for talented, urban students to pursue STEM post-secondary studies, and careers,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of CGCS. “The generous support of Dr. Harris, and ExxonMobil, contributes to the growth of these young men and women as they begin the next stages of their lives.”

Each scholar will receive $5,000 for continued education in a STEM-related field. This year’s award winners are:

  • Matthew Guillory, Robert A. Millikan High School, Long Beach (Calif.), Unified School District;
  • Sofia Kennedy, Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin (Texas), Independent School District;
  • Summer Kollie, Girard Academic Music Program, School District of Philadelphia (Pa.); and
  • Nicolas Pena, Western High School, Broward County (Fla.) Public Schools.

Officials said Guillory plans to attend Harvey Mudd College in the fall, in order to become a biomedical engineer, with career aspirations to design artificial limbs and organs. In addition, Kennedy has been accepted to Harvard University, where she hopes to pursue a degree in scientific research, particularly focused on untraditional uses for Botox.

Kollie will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, and holds long-term aspirations of becoming a physician and researcher, concentrating on communicable diseases in Africa. Finally, Pena will study engineering at Stanford University, in hopes of becoming an inventor and entrepreneur, developing high-technology products.

“Technological advancements are making our world a better place every day, but, in order to keep those achievements coming, we need creative and analytical minds in our workforce,” Harris said. “By providing these scholarships, we are growing another generation of strategic thinkers, who will foster diversity in ideas, applications, and products.”

The CGCS provided the administration of the scholarship program, including the application process, pre-selection, and presentation of awards. Subsequently, Harris made the final selection of recipients.