Alumni wins prestigious scholarship

How did you feel when you won the Barry Goldwater Scholarship?

I felt relieved. I had a long semester, and winning an award was a needed pick-me-up. I woke up to the email, and didn’t quite believe that I wasn’t dreaming until I read it for the third or fourth time.

What will this scholarship mean for you?

This scholarship means I don’t have to work through next semester, and I can focus on classes and grad school applications. The past three years of working and studying side-by-side have really strained me, but next year will be a lot easier with less on my plate.

What did you have to do to earn this award?

I think there are a few things that really contributed to this award, most importantly of which was research. Since freshman year, I have worked on multiple research projects, most of which were computational projects investigating different topics in astrophysics. This helped me to get published on three papers (123), and present at a few conferences. This, coupled with working as a Resident Assistant in the dorms, tutoring in and out of school, and teaching labs were the biggest contributors.

Are there any teachers from Plainfield High School that you feel contributed to helping you in your learning?

My math and science teachers were particularly impactful. Mr. Bond’s calculus foundations helped a lot, and Mr. Nugent’s physics is still helping me through my classes. I’m astonished at the material that was covered in those AP classes since I am still applying the principles they taught.

Any advice for students here who plan to pursue STEM education?

If you plan to go to college, take AP classes that interest you and don’t take a gap year. It may be more work, but its totally worth it in the end. Grades and classes are important, but so is everything else. Join the clubs, and sports teams, and get some stories to tell that will help you get a job someday. Once you get to school, find a mentor and ask them questions. Find someone who will drag you along to professional development luncheons, symposiums, or career fairs. Without my mentor, Dr. Matt Caplan, didn’t do it, I definitely wouldn’t be where I’m at today.

What are your future plans?

I plan to go to grad school and receive a master’s or doctorate in astrophysics. After that, I will either work toward a professorship somewhere or find a national lab where I can pursue research in. I would like to teach college physics someday, but I will also continue research in some form or another. Collegiate physics professors get the best of both worlds, and I think a position like that would suit me well.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Advice to current high schoolers: Keep your heads up and do your best in high school. Find something you enjoy and stick to it. College isn’t for everyone and that’s okay, but use high school as a testing ground. Take it seriously, because it is one of the few places where we can get a second chance