The California Academy of Sciences Awards
Two Full College Scholarships toGifted Bay Area Girls

Scholarships Awarded as Part of the Academy's Inaugural "Women in Science" event in May

SAN FRANCISCO (July 6, 2005) - On May 16, 2005, the California Academy of Sciences held its first "Women in Science Day" conference, which was attended by 114 high school juniors and seniors from across the Bay Area. Today, the Academy is pleased to announce that two of those attendees have been selected to receive full four-year scholarships to the college of their choice. The two recipients, Jamie Tam from Castro Valley High School and Norma Jaimez of Eastside Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, are both in the 11th grade. A third recipient, Gladys Reyes, who recently graduated from Mission High School in San Francisco as the valedictorian of her class, will receive an annual scholarship of $10,000 to supplement her existing scholarship funds at Cornell University. The scholarships were created by a benefactor of the Academy of Sciences who believes in the value of higher education and in affording exemplary female students every opportunity to succeed in careers in math and science.

All of the gifted math and science students who participated in the Academy's "Women in Science Day" were invited to submit an essay of up to 1000 words that answered the question, "Where do you see yourself ten years from today?" A group of Academy staff, trustees and volunteers read and evaluated each essay and agreed on six finalists for the awards. "The essays were all astounding," said Carol Tang, Ph.D., Astrobiologist and Chair of Educational Programs at the Academy. "We expected to see some good thinking go into these responses, but the passion, drive, and academic maturity the girls expressed in their writing were truly awesome. If the future of science and technology rests with these young women, we are all in good hands."

The selection committee conducted one-hour interviews with each of the six finalists. The two four-year scholarship winners, plus a third recipient who had previously secured college-administered financial aid, were selected based on both their essays and their interviews with the committee. The scholarships will allow Jaime Tam and Norma Jaimez to attend the college of their choice once they are accepted next year. Gladys Reyes will begin her studies at Cornell this coming fall. Unlike traditional scholarships, these scholarships are free of obligations and carry no expectation of repayment. They are being given expressly to encourage the recipients to dream big and focus on their academic studies while in college.

Jamie Tam, Castro Valley High School - Jamie hopes to become an oncologist, and in ten years she sees herself in the midst of medical school. Both her grandmother and her uncle were diagnosed with cancer when she was a young girl and she recalls not only wanting to make them comfortable but also wanting to find a cure for their disease - at age six. Two years ago, she started the Bay Area's first high school Cancer Club, which raises money for the American Cancer Society. She also plays the piano, volunteers as a translator for the hearing impaired, loves American literature, and is fascinated by watching cells divide. When asked about her vision of a perfect day on a college campus she replied, "I see myself sitting under a tree with a group of new and interesting friends discussing politics or something of global importance." She scored well on her first round of SATs and will be taking AP math courses in the fall. She plans to apply to colleges both in California and on the East Coast next year.

Norma Jaimez, Eastside Preparatory, East Palo Alto - Interested in both biochemistry and zoology, Norma is working as an intern this summer at a Stanford lab, where she has begun testing her theory that minor antigens play a key role in the viability or failure of donor organ transplantation. She is consistently at the top of her class at Eastside Prep, a charter school founded with the express purpose of helping lower income students go on to attend college. Norma attributes her drive to succeed to her parents, who immigrated to the United States to give their children better educational opportunities. She remembers one evening when her father, who worked as a janitor, held out two rolls of toilet paper and said, "Unless you want this to be your inheritance… your life, you should study and excel in school." In addition to excelling in science, she is involved in the school's journalism and mock trial programs. While science is a strong suit, she admits that math is still somewhat difficult for her. Her response is simply to study more. When asked about her future she replied, "I know what makes me happy and that's to do meaningful work that helps others." She emphasized that her teachers at Eastside Prep have played a critical role in her life and wanted to acknowledge their daily support and encouragement.

Gladys Reyes, Mission High School, San Francisco - Gladys has just graduated from Mission High School in San Francisco as the valedictorian of her class. She was involved in student government at Mission High School and noted her drive to "make a difference wherever she could." She is especially interested in biology, genetics and evolution and is considering a career in biomedical engineering. Earlier this year, she applied to and was accepted at Cornell University in upstate New York. She is excited about attending the highly regarded school, and once she buys a parka, she is looking forward to experiencing life outside of California. The Academy has awarded her with an annual scholarship of $10,000, which - when combined with the $36,000 in scholarship monies she was granted by Cornell - will enable her to focus on her studies and avoid taking out loans. Gladys is planning to participate in work/study programs to earn extra money during college. She will be the first member of her family to attend college.

 

The California Academy of Sciences, the fourth largest natural history museum in the United States, is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the Natural History Museum. The Academy is beginning an extensive rebuilding project in Golden Gate Park. Pritzker prize-winning architect Renzo Piano is designing the new Academy, which is expected to open in 2008.

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