APS News

APS Awards 1995-1996 Scholarships to Minority Undergrads

The APS has awarded corporate-sponsored scholarships for the 1995-1996 academic year to 24 minority students who are majoring, or plan to major, in physics. Since its inception in 1980, the scholarship program has helped nearly 200 minority students pursue physics degrees. Each scholarship consists of $2,000, which may be renewed once, and which may be used for tuition, room and board.

"We are extremely proud of these students and look forward to watching them evolve into productive scientists, as well as outstanding models for the next generation," said Associate Executive Officer Barrett Ripin.

Corporate Scholar John Joseph Carrasco, a sophomore at CalTech, credits his parents for nurturing his interest in science. His mother is an artist and his father is a professor of neonatology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and they encouraged him to ask questions and explore the universe around him. "Physics to me is the fundamental questioning, the ultimate 'why'," he said. "It causes such a change and growth of perception which can turn even the most mundane of events into an infinitely exciting realm to explore and to cherish. Physics is that combination of curiosity, concepts and imagination. It is a framework of inquiry that can be applied to anything."

Carrasco excelled early in mathematics -- the "language of physics" -- and began taking classes at local colleges by his sophomore year in high school, culminating his senior year with a mostly graduate level class in systems of ordinary differential equations and topology at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. In his first year at CalTech, Carrasco was thrilled to attend lectures by such renowned physicists as David Goodstein on classical mechanics, Kip Thorne on gravitational waves, and Stephen Hawking (a visiting professor) on quantum cosmology. "Everybody here has a passion for what they do," he said. "For the first time, I am completely surrounded by people with the same passion for learning that I have."

A summer job at ARCO Chemical Company was the spark that lit Corporate Scholar Alicia J. Hardy's interest in physics. Despite her busy work schedule in Information Services, she took advantage of the opportunity to walk through various areas of the plant talking to other employees about their jobs. It was the physicists employed there who proved to be the most influential in terms of fostering her career ambitions.

"I understood little of the content of their projects, but was extremely intrigued by the amount of research, cooperative efforts within the groups, the depth of the problems they dealt with daily, and the almost magical transformation of very theoretical equations into useful practicalities," she said of the experience. "I was simply amazed at how powerful a tool physics is, and I began to realize how much versatility a college degree in physics can offer."

Hardy hopes to one day be employed as part of an industrial team of physicists. A course in engineering physics in her senior high school year further strengthened her resolve. Her most enduring research interest at present is fractals, which she believes have many useful applications in the world of physics as models of nature. She plans to begin her undergraduate study at MIT this fall.

Corporate Scholar Korrie Kamauoha's interest in computers and physics stems in part from her early proximity to the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii, where computers and physics are used extensively to monitor the movements of celestial bodies. A "Sterling Scholar of Mathematics" at her high school, she also joined the computer, science and astronomy clubs to foster her diverse interests, and currently works part-time as a computer graphic designer. She plans to begin her undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University this fall.

The APS scholarship program operates under the auspices of the APS Committee on Minorities, and is supported by APS donations and grants from over 20 corporations. Scholarships are awarded to African-American, Hispanic American or Native American students who are high school seniors, college freshmen, or sophomores. Roughly half are awarded to students enrolled in institutions with historically or predominantly black, Hispanic, or native American enrollment.

After being selected, each scholar is matched with an available scholarship from a host corporate sponsor, as well as an accomplished physicist to act as a mentor. Last year's corporate sponsors included AT&T, Bellcore, BP Research, Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Company, Lockheed, Schlumberger-Doll, Sony, and the Xerox Corporation's Wilson Center for Technology.

The other new scholars for 1995-1996, and their institutions (where known), are Lateefa Brooks, Michigan Tech-nological University; Jason Allen Henderson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Brett Groshong, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Alesha Marie Herrera, Rice University; Leeha Herrera, Texas A&M University; Obediah Lewis, Jr., Georgia Institute of Technology; Hagos A. Mehreteab, Princeton University; Asha Richards, Yale University; Matthew Rodriguez, University of Illinois; Rene Rodriguez; Linda Ungsunan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Mandisa Washington.

Students whose scholarships were renewed for 1995-1996 are Anthony Coleman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Lindsay Dolph, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Olga Dubois, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Alvin Gavin, Carnegie-Mellon University; Alix Guerrier, Harvard University; Jerome Hands, New Mexico State University; Ayana Holloway, Princeton University; Justin Paul Jacob, Washington State University; and Tynisha Johnson, University of California, Davis.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin