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ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math & Science Scholarship Recipients: Where Are They Now?

Alexander Barreiro
2011 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math & Science Scholarship Recipient
California Institute of Technology

"After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering I was actually about to head to UCSD for grad school when a friend of mine presented a more interesting idea. My friend had been on a robotics team at UF and in the process had developed a GPS/INS. After he and I graduated his idea was to start a company and improve the product in order to bring it to market, so that's what we're doing. Now I'm co-founder of Sylphase. We've been working on our GPS/INS along with a GPS antenna for about 7 months now and it's looking pretty promising. We met with Uber a couple months ago to talk about our product, but they seemed more interested in hiring us to work on their system instead of buying ours, so that fell through. In October we're meeting with GM to talk to them, hopefully that goes a little better.

As for the scholarship, it was a great help. Caltech is pretty pricey, and if it wasn't for the scholarship and other financial aid I definitely would have gone elsewhere. I'm not sure where I'd be if I'd gone to a different school, but I don't think I would've been challenged nearly as much anywhere else. In general my classes at Caltech were more rigorous than what I saw at other schools. There was more of a focus on understanding concepts and derivation, and less of just being presented with something to memorize. I feel like this is much more important, to develop an intuition about something rather than memorize an equation that you could easily look up.

All in all, the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Scholarship definitely helped me get to where I am today."

Sergio Puleri
2013 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math & Science Scholarship Recipients
University of Florida

"I started studying at the University of Florida in Fall 2013. I graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science May 2017 and will start working full time at Facebook as a Software Engineer at their Seattle, WA office in August.

Computer Science, being an engineering degree is quite rigorous. Courses often have large projects and labs where you can easily spend 10 hours per day working on. They can take several days a week to complete and sometimes are assigned weekly. Time is a very important asset. Thankfully, due to the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Scholarship, I was able to devote 100% of my free time to my education. This enabled me to succeed greatly not only in my courses but in extra curriculars as well. Throughout my four years, I held executive positions in the Software Engineering Club and was President of the club my senior year. I held a teaching assistant position for a course. I worked two internships part-time during spring semesters to gain practical technical skills. I also worked two full-time summer internships. One at Lockheed Martin and the other at Apple.

Some students who are not as fortunate may need to work jobs on the side to finance their education and living. This can greatly affect academic success due to the lost time and added stress. I am extremely grateful for my privilege to not have to do so. Being able to focus my full attention on education directly impacted my success. I attribute this privilege to the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Scholarship, other scholarships I was awarded and my family. Without this privilege I would not have had the extra time for club involvement, teaching assistant positions, and internships. These things were extremely important when finding and securing a job.

I'd like to thank you for awarding me this scholarship and impacting my life in such a great way."

Ezra Zerihun
2014 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math & Science Scholarship Recipient

North Carolina State University

"I graduated a few weeks ago from North Carolina State University with a BA in Computer Science from the Engineering department. Before going to college, I went to high school at the Early College at Guilford, ranked 5th in the nation and the top school in North Carolina. I was able to receive 2 years of college credit due to my time there. I used this experience to speed up my college education. I attended NCSU from 2014-2017, finishing my BA in Computer Science in 3 years. I also finished my BA with a 3.793 GPA, Summa Cum Laude. The Bernard Harris Scholarship was extremely beneficial in helping me pay for college and pursue the STEM field so vehemently. I already wanted to finish college as quickly as possible because my college credit gave me the opportunity and so college wouldn't cost so much. This scholarship made the cost of college even more affordable. It proportionally ended up paying for a large part of my college tuition. Both summers of my college career I landed paid internships, one at Allstate and one at United Health Group. Now that I have graduated I'm currently on the job hunt looking for a job, thinking of moving out to the California or New York area."

Summer Kollie
2015 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math & Science Scholarship Recipient

University of Pennsylvania

"I am a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Health and Societies with a concentration in Global Health. I plan to get minors in Fine Arts and Science, Technology, and Society. I started out as a Biochemistry major but I decided to change my course of study for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is that I plan to work in the public and global health sectors after becoming a physician. I am interested in the intersection between health, biotechnology, and entrepreneurship. I would like to pursue a career where I am able to innovate solutions to pressing health care issues such as health disparities. I felt like what I was learning in my science classes was not giving the breadth and skills I needed for the career path that I am interested in.

The other reason why I switched from a STEM course of study is that I had a lot of difficulties transitioning from high school science and math courses to the rigor of the science and math courses at my university. I always felt like my high school background was not strong enough in order for me to succeed in my math and science courses at my university. I struggled with basic science and math courses my freshman year. By sophomore year, I decided that not pursuing a STEM-related course was the best option for me.

However, even though I am not studying a STEM related field, I am still passionate about STEM and I seek out learning opportunities that are STEM related. For example, during the semester, I work at the Wistar Institute as a research/lab assistant. I get to practice research skills and I get to see chemistry in action and do biology and chemistry-based work in the lab where I work. I am also learning how to code because I have always had an interest in computer science.

I love what I am currently majoring in, however, if I could start college all over again and if I were better prepared for the rigor of the math and science courses at my university, I would have majored in Bio Engineering or Chemical Engineering because I believe Engineering better encapsulates all my interests such as health, biotechnology, and entrepreneurship along with the skills I'll need for my career path as an innovator.

The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Scholarship has been a blessing in helping me to cover my tuition and school bills. I am very much grateful that I was chosen as a recipient. As a low-income, first-generation college student, this scholarship has helped to take the burden of loans from my financial aid package. As a result, I have not had to worry about how I will finance my college education and I can focus on doing my very best in college."

Michael Benben
2016 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math & Science Scholarship Recipient
Georgia Institute of Technology

"Discovering one’s passion critically influences the path that lies ahead. For me, when entering high school I did not yet have this luxury; however, it did not take long to discover that engineering would lay out an extraordinary life for me. Although I am only 19 years old, this career field has taken me all over the country and inspired me to spread its influences overseas. In my first semester of college, I was able to visit the west coast and mid-west for the first time for a conference and job interview, respectively. I am currently participating in my first internship in a state that I have never been in before, right out of my freshman year at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Having the honor to be part of the Dean’s List after the Fall 2016 semester and Faculty Honors after the Spring 2017 semester with a 3.9 GPA, I am off to a strong start to a great set of years at this institute.

After being heavily involved with engineering projects in high school that allowed me to race on the Texas Motor Speedway in a solar powered car, compete in a robotics competition in a football stadium, and assist in commanding a space shuttle simulator for competition at the Kennedy Space Center, I have found another home at Georgia Tech. Joining the RoboJackets (a competitive robotics organization) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), I can now expand on my high school experiences with college-level competitions and professional opportunities. Above all, however, I have not failed to realize that spreading word of STEM is most important in this process. Although companies are searching for the next best engineer at colleges throughout the world, I am looking for those who will be following me as well. My passion may seem to be in engineering, but it also provides me with much inspiration to assist others in following their passion. This year I have been a part of the Outreach team for the RoboJackets, and represented SHPE at high schools near Atlanta to spread interest in STEM. Towards the end of my first year at Tech, I was elected as the new Project Manager for the RoboJackets Outreach team, where I intend to continue my influence in the local Atlanta community and beyond.

If it were not for the Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship that I received in 2016 when entering Georgia Tech, I would not be where I am with all the experiences that allow my knowledge to flourish. Obtaining an internship early in my college career, finding effective organizations that allow me to follow my passion, and having an entire institute supporting me would never have been obtainable without the motivation that this scholarship has provided me. I am extremely thankful and blessed to be where I am today, and look forward to accomplishing more as I build upon my passion in engineering."

Francesca Dupuy
2016 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math & Science Scholarship Recipient
University of Florida

"I am continuing to study Environmental Engineering at University of Florida.  I also plan to minor in Sustainability in the Built Environment.  I thoroughly enjoyed my first year at UF, and cannot wait to begin my sophomore year.  During my freshman year I began conducting research analyzing the racialized experiences of black engineers in Silicon Valley and will continue to assist Dr. Elliot Douglas with this qualitative research throughout my second year. I will be a coauthor of the research paper which we plan to publish in the future.  I was also one of 200 students selected to participate in the University Scholars program, where I will continue to work alongside Dr. Douglas and present our findings at a research symposium in 2018.

Also, I am currently interning in the Planning department at Port Everglades in Broward County.  This internship will help me gain experience so I am more prepared for a career in Environmental Engineering.

I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for receiving the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Scholarship.  The scholarship allowed me to focus more on school itself and the many other opportunities that the University of Florida offers such as study abroad and research. Knowing that this scholarship is there to support me financially and that there are people who believe in me is something I will be forever grateful for."

Dalan Smallwood
2016 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math & Science Scholarship Recipient
University of North Carolina

"Right now I am back at home for the summer to relax. During my time here I will be shadowing an immunologist and possibly volunteering at Moffitt Cancer Center as well. The scholarship that I received from your foundation was a huge help and erased any worries I might have had about paying for class resources. Not having to work has also given me the freedom to expand into multiple extracurriculars, like Kendo, Krav Maga, and Chess. I am still majoring in STEM, but I am doing mathematics as well as biology. I am also pursuing a minor in philosophy."




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