Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whitworth sophomore receives highly competitive NASA scholarship

Whitworth triple major Brayden Hollis, '13, is one of 100 students in the U.S. to receive NASA's Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology (MUST) Scholarship. The scholarship will provide him with up to $10,000 of his tuition and fees, a paid 10-week summer internship at a NASA field center, and the MUST Professional and Academic Support System (PASS), which provides scholars with tutoring, mentoring, and access to various professional development activities.

"It is somewhat overwhelming to win the MUST scholarship," says Hollis, who is from Hillsboro, Ore., and is majoring in mathematics, computer science, and physics. "When I found out, I was almost literally jumping off the walls in excitement. It is definitely a gift from God and I am very grateful."

Hollis says the summer internship will allow him to put in action the concepts he has learned in the classroom, as well as help him get his foot in the door at NASA. He hopes to complete his internship at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories, in Pasadena, Calif., or the Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md.

Susan Mabry is Hollis's NASA mentor, program advisor and a Whitworth associate professor of computer science. She describes Hollis as an exceptional and well-rounded student who thoroughly enjoys being challenged.

"I'm very excited about the opportunities this program presents for Brayden," Mabry says. "In addition to the notable scholarship support, it will allow him to explore many directions and pave the way for graduate school, as well as provide incredible career possibilities. Brayden is one of those rare students who looks beyond grades or position – he focuses on learning, on mastering material and on seeking ways to employ that knowledge."

Hollis says Mabry is his most influential professor at Whitworth. When he was torn between which two majors to choose out of computer science, mathematics, and physics, she reassured him that he was able to consider them all, and suggested he think about pursuing all three.

"Dr. Mabry has pushed to me to strive for greatness from the first time I met her," Hollis says. "She definitely has been a great help and support to me."

In addition to his three majors, Hollis maintains a 4.0 GPA, is president of the Running Club and plays French horn in the Whitworth Concert Band. After graduating from Whitworth, he hopes to continue on to graduate school and later to receive a doctorate degree. He plans on pursuing a career in a computer science-related field.

Hollis will retain his scholarship for the rest of his undergraduate education so long as he maintains a 3.0 GPA, completes surveys and projects for MUST, and pursues a major in a "STEM" field – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Since 2001, the number of Whitworth's science majors has grown 50 percent, and they now make up a quarter of the student body. Last December, Whitworth received a $587,494 grant to support its ongoing growth in science majors. Funded by the National Science Foundation, Whitworth's "NSF Scholars: Training Tomorrow's Scientists Today" program will help financially support 48 underrepresented students majoring in the sciences over the next four years. The grant also will fund science tutoring labs and supplemental science instruction for lower-division students. Whitworth was the only liberal arts school to receive the award last year.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) MUST Project aims to attract and retain underserved and underrepresented students in STEM through a progression of educational opportunities; it provides scholarships to non-minorities as well. MUST is managed by the Hispanic College Fund through a consortium that includes the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Recipients of the MUST scholarship must be a U.S. citizen and a full-time sophomore or junior at an accredited university in the U.S. or a U.S. Territory. Recipients must also have a 3.0 or higher GPA with a major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Applications for the 2011-2012 MUST scholarship will be accepted until Feb. 1, 2011. Visit http://intern.nasa.gov/ for more information.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contact:

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.