Georgia Perimeter College Newsroom

Sheena Vasquez completed an internship at a research institute affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sheena Vasquez wins prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

by Rebecca Rakoczy

Sheena Vasquez, a chemistry major at Georgia Perimeter College, has been awarded the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Vasquez, who will graduate this May from GPC, was one of just four Georgia college students and 260 undergraduates nationwide to receive the scholarship. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

An Honors student and STEM scholar, Vasquez completed a 10-week research internship at the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research in 2014. The research institute is affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During that research, she worked with some of the nation’s top research scientists to explore Dihydroflavonol 4-reductase, an enzyme associated with plant color.

“ I am extremely grateful for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship," she says. " I am fortunate to receive this award, however my success would not be possible without my supporting family and faculty mentors I have developed at GPC and in my other endeavors. I am more motivated to continue my passion for research and do well not only for myself, but for everyone who has constantly supported me along the way.”

The Decatur, Ga. resident  hopes to study and research compounds in plants that can further pharmaceutical drug development, or research compounds in bioluminescent plants which will provide a cheaper alternative to energy sources.  She is currently awaiting her acceptance status at several four-year universities.

"I plan on achieving these goals by first finishing my undergraduate and graduate studies in biochemistry to ultimately become a researcher in academia or industry," she says.

“This award is a testament to the commitment that Sheena Vasquez made to pursuing research experiences at GPC and at other colleges and to the support that she received from the Math and Science Departments and from the Honors Program.” says Dr. Jeff Portnoy, director of GPC’s Honors Program.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,206 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. Thirty-four scholars are mathematics majors, 154 are science and related majors, 68 are majoring in engineering, and four are computer science majors. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering and computer disciplines.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.

The foundation’s purpose is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

Since its first award in 1989, the foundation has bestowed 7,428 scholarships worth approximately $48 million.