VCU students awarded prestigious national scholarships

Virginia Commonwealth University students thrived in the highly competitive application process for national scholarships this spring. Among the prestigious scholarships that VCU students secured are the Fulbright Student Scholarship, the Goldwater Scholarship, the Javits Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Critical Language Scholarship.

The breadth of honors demonstrates the diversity of skills and interests among the VCU student population and reveals strength in a number of different areas of study.

Jessica Hite.  Photos by Mike Porter, VCU Public Relations
Jessica Hite. Photos by Mike Porter, VCU Public Relations

Two VCU students earned Fulbright Student Scholarships, which will allow them to conduct research abroad. Jessica Hite, who graduated this spring with a master’s degree in biology, and Jessica Jagger, a second-year doctoral student in the School of Social Work, received funding from the Fulbright Program to travel to Panama and Jamaica, respectively, for in-depth study in their areas of interest. Six VCU students have received Fulbright awards in the past four years.

Hite will spend six months studying how tadpoles in the lowlands of Panama affect ecosystem functions. Following her work in Panama, Hite will enroll as a Ph.D. student in aquatic ecology at Indiana University.

Jessica Jagger.
Jessica Jagger.

Jagger will use the Fulbright support to conduct research on emergency management policy and disability in Jamaica, especially how leaders account for people with disabilities in emergency planning. Jagger will return following her Fulbright research to complete her Ph.D. work at VCU.

Syed Mohammed Karim, a junior majoring in chemistry, became the sixth VCU student to receive a Goldwater Scholarship in the past three years. The Goldwater is the premier national scholarship for undergraduate math, science and engineering students. 

Syed Mohammed Karim
Syed Mohammed Karim

Karim has worked at VCU in the lab of Maryanne Collinson, Ph.D., professor of analytical, inorganic and materials chemistry, on a project to develop an electrochemical sensor to provide live monitoring of the redox potential of blood in patients in trauma settings. He also has conducted cardiac MRI research the past two summers in the Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Goldwater Scholars receive one- and two-year scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Two graduate sculpture students in the School of the Arts were selected for the prestigious Jacob K. Javits Fellowship.

Ian McMahon and Nataliya Slinko, who are both MFA candidates in the Department of Sculpture, became the fifth and sixth students from the sculpture program to be named Javits Fellows in the past six years. Javits Fellowships are awarded to graduate students of superior academic ability in the arts, humanities and social sciences. There are typically only five to seven Javits recipients each year in the studio arts, which includes sculpture. Javits awardees receive payment annually for tuition and fees and a generous stipend for four years.

McMahon builds architectural works ambitious in both scale and theme. Often working with reinforced plaster, McMahon tailors pieces to the specific space of the locations in which he installs them.

Slinko’s work is cerebral, typically consisting of independent objects that are meticulously made and result from intense observation. A former graphic designer in advertising, Slinko’s work has dealt with the oppressive nature of office work and with her youth in Ukraine.

Nicole Constance
Nicole Constance

Nicole Constance received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support her pursuit of doctoral studies. Constance graduated in May with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and anthropology. Constance will use the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to attend Penn State to participate in Ph.D. programs in human development and family studies and in demography.

As an undergraduate, Constance was involved in several research projects in the Department of Psychology, including her thesis work on the influence of neighborhood quality on the socialization of coping.

NSF Graduate Research Fellows receive three years of graduate support, including a $30,000 annual stipend, a $10,500 cost-of-education allowance, access to the TeraGrid Supercomputer and a $1,000, one-time international travel allowance.

Conschetta Wright, who graduated in May with a Master’s degree in Public Health, received a Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in an eight-week immersion program in Tunisia that starts on May 31.

Wright is interested in learning about medical Arabic and plans to use the Critical Language Scholarship experience to help her offer culturally competent care to patients who speak Arabic.

The Critical Language Scholarship provides funding for American students to spend the summer studying the languages and cultures of countries not frequently studied in the United States.