Students are Honored with Prominent Awards Recognizing Academic Excellence

A number of Holy Cross students and recent alumni received highly competitive national awards, recognizing their academic achievements and continuing to support their future goals. The awards allowed these individuals — whose accomplishments span a range of disciplines — to pursue their academic interests, both at Holy Cross and beyond.

  • A Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) brought Alexander Kochenburger ’17 to Morocco this summer where he participated in an accelerated Arabic language and cultural immersion program for two months. An international studies major, Kochenburger pursued the scholarship, along with the encouragement of his professors, as a significant step towards his goal of fluency in the language. “I believe that if I understand the language, I can better understand the culture, politics, and history of the Arab world,” says Kochenburger, who hopes to secure a career in international affairs after Holy Cross. The CLS Program is a fully-funded program of the U.S. Department of State and part of the U.S. government's effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages.
  • Biology major Jeff Bourgeois ’16 was named a 2015 Goldwater Scholar through the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, which aims to support talented college students interested in pursuing research careers in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. Bourgeois, who spent his summer working as an intern at the National Institute of Health, also performs research in the lab of Julia Paxson, assistant professor of biology, where he researches and studies stem cells. A rising senior, Bourgeois hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in immunology and molecular pathology and to continue conducting research in biomedical science — goals further supported by this recognition.
  • Recent graduate Felishia Barros ’15 ventured off to sea just weeks after commencement through the Sea Education Association (SEA) Semester summer program where she participated in hands-on, community-led sustainability efforts throughout Hawaii. Barros, who majored in religious studies at the College, was one of 18 undergraduates from across the United States selected to participate in the five-week program that included  fieldwork on shore, as well as a 10-day sailing adventure throughout the Hawaiian archipelago. The program’s understanding of the Hawaiian people’s relationship with the resources of the land and ocean around them, as well its examination of traditional Hawaiian and western environmental approaches, closely connected to Barros’ academic interests revolving around issues of culture.
  • Nicolle Siegart ’15 was recognized at the 19th Annual Undergraduate Poster Competition held by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, winning for best poster in the category of Proteins and Enzymes. Siegart, whose project was titled “Protein splicing of in a temperature-dependent intein from an extreme thermophile,” was among the 250 students who participated in the competition and received one of the few awards given. Siegart majored in biology with biochemistry and premedical concentrations, and worked on this specific project throughout her junior and senior year as part of the research she conducted in the lab of Kenneth Mills, professor of chemistry, who also served as her research advisor. “I was happy to be able to communicate a project I had worked on for much of my academic career with other scientists,” Seigart shares, “and to have these professionals acknowledge me was a great way to end my Holy Cross research career.”
  • Kelsey Poremba '14 received a grant from the National Science Foundation through their Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which will support her research in organic chemistry at Caltech, where she is currently pursuing a Ph.D.  The grant recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Poremba, who was a chemistry major with a premedical concentration while at Holy Cross, as well as a member of the varsity swimming and diving team, credits her time at the College as foundational in her preparation for graduate research. “The two years I spent conducting research for Bianca Sculimbrene (associate professor of chemistry) made my transition to the lab at Caltech very easy,” she says. “Holy Cross taught me how to learn and think critically about complex problems which has served me well.”

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