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Howard Hughes Medical Institute Awards Scholarships to Fourteen Loudoun County Students

Summary

HHMI has awarded $98,000 in scholarships to 14 students graduating this year from Loudoun County, VA public high schools.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded $98,000 in scholarships to 14 students graduating this year from Loudoun County, Virginia, public high schools. The students, who have demonstrated academic excellence and interest in science, will use the awards to defray the costs of tuition, books, or other expenses at colleges they will attend in the fall.

Two outstanding students from each Loudoun County high school received a one-time award of $7,000 from HHMI, the nation's largest non-profit funder of science education programs. The money will go directly to the students' colleges, which will be encouraged to apply it toward the reduction of loans.

"These scholarships are an investment in the future of science and the future of Loudoun County's children," said Thomas R. Cech, Ph.D., President of HHMI. "We look forward to continuing this support for years to come."

HHMI has invested more than $1.4 billion in a range of activities for students of all ages since it began making grants for science education in 1988. The scholarships to high school seniors represent one component of a new commitment by HHMI to invest at least $1 million annually in a science education partnership with Loudoun County Public Schools. In addition to the scholarships, the Institute is supporting two other LCPS initiatives: planning for a science academy at Dominion High School and an ongoing institute for teachers' to develop and bring into the classroom new activities with a hands-on approach to teaching science.

The number of scholarships will grow in coming years as new high schools are added in the county. Recipients were identified through the existing scholarship selection process at each high school, and chosen based on academic achievement, demonstrated interest in science or science education, and financial need.

"Obviously these are very handsome scholarships in terms of the amount of money that will go to each student, but of particular note is the focus on science, and on rewarding students that have done well in and will continue to pursue science. We're delighted," said Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick III, superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools.

Like all of the scholarship recipients, Adeeb Aghdassi, son of Esfandiar and Shamila Aghdassi, had no idea prior to graduation that he would be receiving the award. "It was such a shock to me. When they called my name, my heart was in my throat," he said. Aghdassi, who graduated from Broad Run High School, will begin a pre-med program at the University of Virginia in the fall. His interest in medicine was influenced in part by his recent work in the histology department at Reston Hospital, where he said he has seen firsthand that "the work that [medical professionals] do is out of a love for helping people."

Camille Donovan, daughter of Kevin and Cholina Donovan and a Stone Bridge High School graduate, also has plans to attend the University of Virginia, where she is considering a major in chemical or biomedical engineering. "I've always been a math and science person," she said. "I've always been passionate about chemistry, so I thought I could help people that way."

This year's other HHMI-Loudoun County Science Scholars are: Broad Run High School

  • Britany Lynn Raymond

Heritage High School

  • Julio Cesar Monroy Cruz
  • Donnavon Kalaus Lalputan

Loudoun County High School

  • Carolyn Ann Davis
  • Benjamin Daniel Fox

Loudoun Valley High School

  • Emily Bzdyk
  • Eric Duchon

Stone Bridge High School

  • Remington Below

Park View High School

  • Richard Hang
  • Kathryn Meintel

Potomac Falls High School

  • Ernesto Gonzalez
  • Yassaman Pourkazemi

Loudoun County will be the home to HHMI's Janelia Farm Research Campus, now under construction in Ashburn. Janelia Farm, scheduled to open in 2006, will be a unique center where scientists from around the world can work collaboratively to create and exploit the new tools of biomedical science in a multidisciplinary environment.