Make Your Mark Scholarship

Congratulations to our Scholarship Winners!

Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. would like to congratulate all of our scholarship winners. We launched our Make Your Mark Scholarship in 2017 to assist deserving college-bound students in paying for secondary educational expenses. We hope that by offering this money, we are helping not only one student, but an entire community that will reap the benefits of that student's drive for success.

Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. would like to thank all who applied. Please check our blog and our Facebook page for announcements and other scholarship opportunities.

2020 National Winner

" I realized that I—a mere high school student coding from his bedroom—could solve any problem, even save lives, through STEM."

- Ruchir B., Scholarship Winner

Short Essay

I only truly understood Computer Science’s potential to save lives after my grandfather slipped on the bathroom floor. For most, this would be no reason to panic. But for my Nana, debilitated by severe Alzheimer's, it meant lying in agony for nearly forty minutes, his phone just out of reach. What if his phone had heard his cries for help?

To answer that burning question, I began building Rescuer, a hands-free emergency response application that allows users to send emergency messages—including pictures, audio files, and location of the scene - using unique features like voice recognition. For example, if a user yells their voice recognition key phrase from a different room, Rescuer will hear it and automatically send emergency messages with their location and other information to pre-defined contacts.

"The sparkle in his eyes was red hot, kindled from the same fire that my first hackathon had lit in me. This was when I truly realized I had left a mark on my community."
- Ruchir B.

After building a prototype, I realized Rescuer could benefit more than just my family: it could save anyone. As I began to apply for patents, my apps suddenly began acquiring tens of thousands of downloads, gaining recognition from the media, presidential candidates, and app competitions. I realized that I—a mere high school student coding from his bedroom—could solve any problem, even save lives, through STEM. That realization, that I can truly make a mark on this world through my software, lit within me a spark for utilizing Computer Science for social good; a spark that can never be put out.

Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to one goal: to make my mark by creating tech awareness in my community and building meaningful software.

"I took this tragedy as an opportunity to learn more about the disease and see if I could use technology to combat it."
- Ruchir B.

Upon conceptualizing the sheer impact one can make through code, I made it my mission to promote technology in my community. For example, I founded the Tech Bytes Club, a high school tech journal written by and for high schoolers to inspire students to explore technology. After Tech Bytes gained rampant popularity at my own school, I established branches in three other high schools, where the club took off as well.

After seeing the excitement Tech Bytes stirred in my community, I founded Millibit Hacks, a hackathon—or coding competition—which is open to all. The event left such a large mark that massive companies like Microsoft, Unity, and Subway sponsored the event, providing speakers, prizes, and financial support towards the cause. As the event came to a close, I distinctly remember one of our younger contestants coming to me and whispering, “Yo this coding thing; I wanna, like, do this.” The sparkle in his eyes was red hot, kindled from the same fire that my first hackathon had lit in me. This was when I truly realized I had left a mark on my community.

Since then, local teachers have invited me to give inspirational tech talks in their classrooms. I do so happily each time, hoping to inspire the next generation to leave their own mark through technology.

Ultimately, my grandfather passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. I took this tragedy as an opportunity to learn more about the disease and see if I could use technology to combat it. After loads of research, I realized that Artificial Intelligence—a type of technology that allows computers to learn like humans do—holds the power to predict and diagnose neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s better than humans. Once again motivated by my grandfather, I immersed myself in the world of AI: I signed up for relevant courses at my community college, began blogging about AI, shadowed a data scientist, and even conducted AI research at the university level. I then applied my knowledge of AI through a personal project, in which I produced a computer-generated rap song and shared it through a TEDx Talk, “How I Taught My Computer to Rap.” As I attempted to make my mark in Alzheimer’s research, I became obsessed with the field of AI along the way.

Now, as an incoming freshman majoring in Computer Science, I hope to study AI within the sphere of Alzheimer’s and leave the biggest mark yet. I want to do so by embarking in AI research through a Ph.D. or by starting a company that specializes in using AI to predict and diagnose the disease.

Computer Science is my paintbrush, allowing me to paint impactful strokes of innovation in nearly every domain: helping me truly make a mark on the world. Everything I’ve done so far in making my mark has been without any funding or scholarships. With a scholarship, however, I can truly bolden my mark. Given the 2020 Make Your Mark Scholarship, I would make sure to make the most of it—leaving no stone unturned—to truly leave a lasting mark on society through technology. Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S.’s Scholarship will allow me to spend less time worrying about paying for college and more time innovating while focusing completely on building software that can save lives like those of my late grandfather’s.

- Ruchir B.


2020 Washington State Winner

"Witnessing how images remain comprehensible to all has influenced me to see art as a universal language."

- Olivia O., Scholarship Winner

Short Essay

As I pushed her wheelchair beside various works of art created by Dutch masters like Van Gogh and Rembrandt, I would hear her mumble, “Dit is mooi.” This is beautiful. Although my grandmother, my Oma, continued to describe Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” using words like helder, kalmte, and fantastisch, while I used words like bright, calm, and fantastic, our different pronunciations seemed irrelevant as we gazed at the scenes before us. The artworks were time capsules, artifacts showing how the world has simultaneously evolved and stayed the same. Even though we used different languages, my Oma and I were able to understand the works’ meaning; we didn’t need translations for the art we experienced. Witnessing how images remain comprehensible to all has influenced me to see art as a universal language. I saw art’s ability to connect people despite their differences. This acknowledgment motivated me to practice my artistic techniques in the hopes that I would be an accomplished artist and have my work in museums. I wanted to make my mark on the world by showing my perspective. I spent years filling up sketchbooks, reading books about techniques, and visiting museums to gain inspiration.

"Even though painting and drawing cannot cure diseases, I realized that they are methods to cope, and I again felt the power of art in bringing people together."
- Olivia O.

My efforts were recognized nationally for the first time through the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, where I was awarded a National Gold Medal for Illustration at Carnegie Hall and my art traveled in an exhibition with the works of other young artists. Two years later, I was awarded the same honor, reaffirming that I had achieved my goal through hard work rather than luck. I continued to show my art in various ways, including a teen exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, the Washington State High School Photography Exhibition, and giving a TEDx talk. The success led me to reflect on my past self: a young girl transfixed by paintings created by old Dutch masters, seizing every opportunity to show her art to others. I was excited and humbled at the idea that my art was traveling to places I have never been and seeing people I will never meet.

"My experiences have taught me that art can go beyond canvases on blank walls to transform the world."
- Olivia O.

Despite my achievements, my belief in the power of art began to waiver. Witnessing my mother being diagnosed with a rare neuroendocrine cancer and my older sister being diagnosed with a neurological disease made me view my art as insignificant compared to my family’s predicament. There were times where I wished I wanted to be a doctor rather than an artist. I felt hopeless and struggled to understand what I could contribute to the world around me. But when I was able to communicate with my sister through our shared love for art, despite her inability to form words or speak clear thoughts at times, I gradually started to regain my understanding of art’s power. Even though painting and drawing cannot cure diseases, I realized that they are methods to cope, and I again felt the power of art in bringing people together.

Although sharing my art became a source of bonding and healing for my family, I wanted to do more than that. I started looking for ways to use my artistic skills to solve problems. I found my passion for the combination of engineering and design through independent interdisciplinary projects. Using empathy as a starting point for my design led me to experiment with designing an electronic hand warmer specifically for those with Raynaud’s disease, a condition that causes an individual to quickly lose feeling in their hands or feet in cold weather. I decided I was going to attempt to create an electronic heating band that I couldn’t find at stores. Again, I had to become an engineer and a designer to create my solution. I researched electronic heating circuits and found the technology needed to convert battery power into heat while limiting the weight of the system so that it would be comfortable for the user to wear.

Using scientific concepts to influence my designs and knowing how to manipulate what was inside my product in addition to its outward appearance allowed me to feel as though I truly understood what I was creating. The satisfaction I felt from completing this project motivated me to continue to use my artistic abilities to impact the lives of others. I designed a children’s book for youth with dyscalculia with my peers, painted a mural to transform the atmosphere of my school, and worked with mentors through the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering Mentor Program of America to explore how design can be used to combat homelessness in large cities.

My experiences have taught me that art can go beyond canvases on blank walls to transform the world. I’ve always aspired to be an artist, and my definition of what an artist is continues to evolve. Currently, I hope to continue to amalgamate my artistic and academic knowledge by studying Industrial Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, where I will be enrolled in the Honors Program.

- Olivia O.


2019 National Winner

"The greatest privilege of existence, I believe, is the access to movement, along with the beauty and inquiry that comes with it, but it ought to be a right."

- Rea Y., Scholarship Winner

Short Essay

The human body is a captivating thing - there is something mesmerizing about the way that each bone precisely articulates with the next, tethered soundly by seemingly delicate threads of tissue; how each muscle and nerve cell is an individual player in a vast, intricate network, communicating with one another to allow us to run through forests, waltz on a dance floor, or hold someone's hand.

As a student majoring in Biology and Science and Technology Studies, I am intrigued by the ways through which we understand ourselves and our bodies, how we connect emotionally and spiritually with our forms and interact with the world around us. As a stem cell biologist, I am inspired by the potential treatments offered by these biological curiosities and the ways through which the joys of being a body can be unlocked. The greatest privilege of existence, I believe, is the access to movement, along with the beauty and inquiry that comes with it, but it ought to be a right. This is how I wish to make my mark on the world through my education: by unlocking the wonder that is so closely intertwined with movement for those who are otherwise unable to access it.

"While my training as a biologist has gifted me with an understanding of how our bodies function and fit together into physical whole, I know that our being is more than a set of technical machinery."
- Rea Y.

I think of Kris Boesen, who was able to regain use of his upper body through stem cell treatment after a spinal cord injury left him paralyzed. I am reminded of Sonia Coontz, a mother, who was left a prisoner in her own body after a stroke but made a miraculous recovery after stem cell therapy. Boesen, Coontz, and countless patients in the future have ongoing stem cell research to thank for their drastic improvements in quality of life, and through the research that I have been conducting with the Darling Lab at Brown University, my ultimate goal is to contribute to research that can open up the euphoria that accompanies movement to those who have suffered a car accident, have been stricken with ALS, or are battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 

My fascination with stem cells led me to the Department of Molecular Physiology, Pharmacology, and Biotechnology, where I volunteer as an undergraduate researcher. Dr. Darling, my Principal Investigator, has mentored me well by showing me the amazing capabilities of stem cells, from forming bandages in the form of cell scaffolds to understanding how these cells are able to communicate with one another. I am currently designing my own project, looking to study how adipose-derived stem cells may control immune responses in organisms. One application of adipose cell immunosuppression is the treatment of inflammatory diseases like osteoarthritis. An affliction that affects millions of people worldwide, osteoarthritis is an immense obstacle for people trying to maintain a high quality of life: it causes excruciating pain and loss of mobility and function by degrading cartilaginous tissue. Through my research, I plan to investigate how inflammation can be controlled and how inflamed tissues can be restored.

"My ultimate goal is to contribute to research that can open up the euphoria that accompanies movement to those who have suffered a car accident, have been stricken with ALS, or are battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy."
- Rea Y.

While my training as a biologist has gifted me with an understanding of how our bodies function and fit together into physical whole, I know that our being is more than a set of technical machinery. Our form gives us a presence, the ability to engage with our surroundings through exploration and action. I never appreciated the ability to move, nor the personal reward that results from it, until my first year of university.

As I walked to meet my friends for dinner in Andrews Hall, my eye was drawn to a poster pasted to a bulletin board, decorated with little pictures. “Learn how to ballroom dance!” it announced in frilly cursive lettering. “All skill levels (or none) welcome!” Until then, dance was something entirely foreign to me, but something captivated me in these pictures – the bright colors of the dresses, shimmering in the light captured by each sparkling sequin; how each couple, frozen mid-spin, was progressing through a proud glide across the floor without a single doubt in their eyes. Or perhaps what drew me was my tendency as a scientist to question the world around me - could the team really teach anybody, even someone without any experience, how to dance?

Being able to question whether I could move in such a way shows that I live a life of extreme privilege - there are those who are unable to even step onto a dance floor. I recall how my dance coach, once an elegant, poised ballroom dancer, nearly collapsed after standing for far too long because of her osteoarthritis; despite this, she pushed forward with the lesson, determined to instill in me her own love for dancing. My greatest desire is to serve people like my coach, who, despite the obstacles presented by their bodies, continue to chase their passions. Through the knowledge that I have developed through my majors in Biology and STS and my work in the laboratory, alongside the motivation that I have for bringing an appreciation of movement to other people, I will contribute everything that I can do so that we can all engage with the universe in the dance of life.

- Rea Y.


2019 Washington State Winner

"When I learned about the lack of women (especially of color) in the STEM field, I initially felt discouraged. I later realized that I could help end the trail of this lack of representation by pursuing it."

- Eden G., Scholarship Winner

Short Essay

My parents had immigrated to Seattle from Ethiopia only two years before my birth. My mother and father had to quickly integrate into American society in effort to pick up English and get jobs to support themselves. Seeing the way my parents worked just to provide my sister and I with a comfortable life has encouraged me to reflect on the path they took to get here. Growing up in Ethiopia, my parents were not given the traditional path to higher education that many individuals in more privileged countries receive. The stories of poverty-stricken people and almost resourceless areas that my parents grew up in has motivated me to not only make them proud, but to give back to my people as well. My own definition of “making your mark” is the process of sacrificing or giving in order to make a difference in the life of someone or something. My parents are my main inspiration for my understanding of this definition and have motivated me to dedicate my life to making a difference in the world.

"My mother and father had to quickly integrate into American society in effort to pick up English and get jobs to support themselves. Seeing the way my parents worked just to provide my sister and I with a comfortable life has encouraged me to reflect on the path they took to get here."
- Eden G.

As I have explored career options, a goal of mine has been to enter the medical field and eventually become a doctor to work abroad in Ethiopia. I have always wanted to help others and Public Health has developed into a specific interest for me as a major. For a while, I’ve known that I want to become a doctor, as this will allow me to focus on serving others. Yet I know I don’t want to limit myself to just treating patients. By majoring in Public Health, I will be equipped with the knowledge to address health issues that impact community health. By studying International Affairs in addition to Public Health, I will be giving myself a global perspective as a healthcare provider to be able to address broader issues in our world. In addition to studying Public Health and International Affairs, I have taken it upon myself to take classes in Amharic, which is the official language of Ethiopia. Through taking Amharic courses, I am strengthening my proficiency in my native language to allow myself to communicate properly with my future patients in Ethiopia. While engaging in these studies, it is also my goal to volunteer for different public-health-related organizations in the Washington, D.C., area to expand my knowledge about the issues facing people in our world.

"By majoring in Public Health, I will be equipped with the knowledge to address health issues that impact community health. By studying International Affairs in addition to Public Health, I will be giving myself a global perspective as a healthcare provider to be able to address broader issues in our world."
- Eden G.

Although I have put a great amount of thought into my future endeavors, there have been bumps along the road that caused me to carry certain doubts. When I learned about the lack of women (especially of color) in the STEM field, I initially felt discouraged. I later realized that I could help end the trail of this lack of representation by pursuing it. When I become a doctor, I am set on taking my career beyond diagnosing patients. I want to turn my career into an opportunity to advocate for improving the health of the public. I want to dedicate time to helping the issues that often get pushed under the rug by most doctors. I want to make sure that issues such as mental health and drug addiction are given the attention they deserve.

The experiences I’ve had and the subjects that I am interested in have motivated me to work towards this career goal. I want to make sure healthcare is accessible for everyone no matter their race or socioeconomic class. I want to someday play a part in implementing health education programs while still connecting with those patients at the end of the day. I know that one day I’ll be able to apply the knowledge I receive in the coming years to better our society: to make it better for the generations to come. Through reflecting on the mark my parents have had on my own life, I hope that one day I can make a mark on the lives of many other people.

- Eden G.


2017 Winning Entry

"As a future engineer, I will gain the capacity to develop medical innovations applicable to burn care on a much more practical level."

- Emily P., Scholarship Winner

Introduction

Iam applying for this scholarship because I have always worked diligently and passionately to impact my community, and it would be an honor to gain support as I continue my education and prepare to make more positive change in the world. Although I struggled through seizures, whiplash, and a severe concussion throughout my childhood, I persevered to help other hospitalized children, specifically burn victims, through establishing a charity called Boo Boo Bears.

The connection I developed with pediatric burn victims later led me to conduct scientific research to advance burn wound treatment. After multiple years of hands-on skin bank research and writing two graduate-level research papers, my work has been recognized as one of the top 40 projects in the nation, first in New York, and later fourth in the world by some of the most prestigious competitions. I am currently a summer intern at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where I continue to expand my dermatology knowledge and prepare to further transform the realm of burn treatment. I will attend Stony Brook University as a biomedical engineering major, and I was accepted into the B.S./M.D. program directly from high school.

Short Essay

The pager buzzed, and my father sprang into action to respond to a house fire call. This is an indelible childhood memory, but unlike many children of firefighters, I had no interest in joining the fire service, but rather helping the victims torn from a blazing death. In 2009, I was inspired to volunteer at the children’s burn center and establish Boo Boo Bears, a charity where my younger sister and I delivered stuffed bears to pediatric patients. I could sense the discomfort of hospitalization and the fear of deviating from a healthy, normal quality of life at a young age. Their tears and grimaces conveyed the same helpless fear that I experienced when frequently hospitalized for grand mal seizures. I knew the pain, and I was determined to further battle the hardship faced by child burn victims.

"My powerful connections to the burn center and its inhabitants are the main reason for my decision to complete Stony Brook’s M.D./Ph.D. program."
- Emily P.

I became more involved in the burn center and attended related events, where I heard my current research mentor, Dr. Marcia Simon, speak about her work. As director of the skin bank, she was conducting research with applications towards skin regeneration. I was always interested in pathology as a career, and of learning how to diagnose tumor biopsies on a single cell level, a notoriously challenging and stressful part of a pathologist’s job. I requested a meeting with Dr. Simon. She discussed ongoing projects in her lab, including investigation of LRAT, a protein implicated in skin cancer progression. What intrigued me most was that, although the lab utilized skin cancer to complete these experiments, the applications were broad and encompassed another one of my interests, namely wound healing in burn victims. Although I was not yet of age to perform hands-on work, I passionately pursued the investigation of LRAT and later joined the Simon lab.

After two years of hands-on work at the skin bank, I produced my second graduate-level research paper outlining a novel relationship that I discovered between wound healing and cancer. This experience as both a humanitarian and scientist has sparked my interest in devoting my education to the goal of improving quality of life for burn victims. My powerful connections to the burn center and its inhabitants are the main reason for my decision to complete Stony Brook’s M.D./Ph.D. program and conquer the challenge of a career in both science and medicine.

I can confidently say that my ties with the burn center and love for helping burn victims is why I have been successful in my previous endeavors, and this unique past drives me to pursue the rigorous education of a biomedical engineering degree and medical degree. By becoming involved in this interdisciplinary program at a top research university, I will cultivate my ability to approach problems with a complex mindset and multiple perspectives. My multifaceted education as a Stony Brook undergraduate and medical student will expand my knowledge base, and I will learn how to improve burn care by thinking like a scientist, engineer, and clinician.

"Although much of the general public may view scar treatment and related technologies as simply cosmetic, I will use my credibility as a clinician to display the necessity of these treatments in terms of returning patients to a normal standard of healthy living."
- Emily P.

I will first contribute to knowledge about the processes of healthy and unhealthy wound healing in order to fuel the journey towards improved burn treatment. Scientific research is one of many aspects of a biomedical engineering degree, and I can use this perspective to learn in more abstract ways, such as continuing my research on the relationship between wound healing and carcinogenesis. Although this type of science independently may not be directly applicable to burn care, it provides a strong foundation for creating successful engineering and clinical projects to impact patient treatment.

"I can confidently say that my ties with the burn center and love for helping burn victims is why I have been successful in my previous endeavors."
- Emily P.

As a future engineer, I will gain the capacity to develop medical innovations applicable to burn care on a much more practical level. Using my combined knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science, I aspire to develop enhanced methods of debridement, one of the most painful and savage aspect of burn treatment that involves constantly removing dead tissue from wound sites. I would like to improve debridement by designing an enzyme that is selective against damaged tissue, perhaps through an active site that can only bind to portions of proteins that are exposed when they are damaged. Another engineering goal is to improve the efficiency of healing in burn victims by developing a method of delivering cells called fibroblasts directly to a wound site for tissue regeneration.

With the different mindset of a clinician, I will consistently consider the physiological relevance of smaller-scale studies on individual molecules, proteins, or even isolated tissue in vitro. For example, I can use a medical doctor’s perspective to hypothesize that a protein or mechanism involved in cell adhesion or stroma production can also be exploited to either prevent scar formation or improve tissue regeneration. My power as an individual in the medical community will also give me a pedestal to advocate for burn treatment discovery and improvement. I will encourage fire and burn safety, and I will remind the community and those in administrative positions of the importance of treatments like scar removal. Although much of the general public may view scar treatment and related technologies as simply cosmetic, I will use my credibility as a clinician to display the necessity of these treatments in terms of returning patients to a normal standard of healthy living.

- Emily P.