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Two students win nationally competitive scholarship

By Farah Casalini
On April 13, 2012

 

Nationwide, only 238 students are awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, and two of the recipients are University of Rhode Island students.

Juniors Christopher Bobba and Russell Dauksis won the maximum $7,500 award. The award is considered to be the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship for students interested in pursuing a career in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering.

Bobba, a Portsmouth native, is looking to earn a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering with a minor in biology, with hopes of going to medical school in the future. He said with this scholarship, he feels more confident in achieving his goals.

"I realized I have a chance in succeeding and doing well in what I want to do," he said. "I'm smarter than I thought I was."

Dauksis, of North Kingstown, is looking to pursue an entirely different career path, with a major in marine biology. Dauksis said he also feels as if this scholarship will give him an advantage in his career.

"Hopefully it will make getting into graduate school easier," he said.

Both students said they were surprised to have won the award because of the intense competition, adding that they applied because of their advisors' advice.

"My advisor suggested it and I thought it was a good idea," Dauksis said.

When Dauksis walked into his classroom two weeks ago and his teacher hugged him, he was puzzled. He didn't realize that his bewilderment had only just begun. 

"After my professor hugged me, they told me I had won," he said. "I was pretty surprised."

Bobba also didn't expect to win, saying his advisor "sprung" the news of his achievement on him.

"I was pumped [and] I was happy," he said.

After being nominated for the scholarship, both students were asked to submit a resume, transcript and an essay describing research they had conducted. Bobba explored the development of "nano-carriers" for cancer treatment, while Dauksis has been working on a coral reef restoration project.

Both students have their own reasons for pursuing their respective fields. Bobba said he wants to work in a more hands-on career field where "research could be more applied," and Dauksis said he's always liked the ocean because of his mother's influence.

"Biology doesn't develop applications or solve problems," Bobba said of the typical major students pursue before going on to medical school. Ultimately, Bobba would like to become a medical researcher to develop new treatments.

Dauksis, on the other hand, would like to go to graduate school and become a professor.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship was created in 1986 in honor of Sen. Barry M. Goldwater and is intended to, "provide a source of highly qualified individuals" to the fields of mathematics, natural sciences and engineering, the award website said.


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