Honors Student Gerbig Awarded as Goldwater Scholar
Gracen Gerbig, a junior with a cellular and molecular biology concentration and a minor in public health, thought that the Goldwater scholarship "seemed like a perfect fit" for her from the time she first heard about it. Frank Congin, a Kent State Honors College advisor, gave a presentation about the scholarship at the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program, at which Gracen was a participant. Her interest in the scholarship was confirmed when she further researched the qualifications online. She saw the scholarship as a representation of the goals which she has been working towards throughout her career at Kent State and says it aligned very well with what she has been pursuing. It was recently announced that Gracen is now a Goldwater scholar.
Gracen says receiving the Goldwater Scholarship allows her to focus even more on her research; she also says the money provided by the scholarship will be very valuable. She is working with Boston University and Tufts University on her current research project, which involves studying the epidemiology of staphylococci on Boston-area rats. She and her fellow researchers are examining Staphylococcus aureus found on these rodents with the goal of determining whether they carry strains similar to the strains of S. aureus that afflict humans. Gracen says that she "fell into" this particular project, but she has been interested in studying germs, bacteria, and sickness her whole life. Her dedication to research will be very applicable to her in the future as she pursues her desired career, either in academia or as a research primary investigator.
The Honors College was highly supportive of Gracen throughout the application process for the Goldwater Scholarship; she says Frank, who met with her on multiple occasions and looked over her essays, was especially helpful. Gracen credits the Honors College with "putting the foot in the door" with this scholarship; she says that, if she had not learned about the scholarship from Frank over the summer, she would not have had the opportunity to apply.
The application for the Goldwater requires multiple essays, which Gracen says inspired her to reflect on how she became interested in her chosen areas of research, from childhood into her current pursuits, as well as to consider what she is working towards and what she wants to accomplish in the future. For students interested in applying for a Goldwater Scholarship, she recommends sorting through their thoughts now and suggests making a "mind map" of where they currently are in their research, what their goals are, and how they can accomplish those goals. She also stresses the importance of keeping ahead of deadlines and, equally important, encourages prospective applicants to "stay involved in research and keep going for it."