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MassBay Student Named a Prestigious 2016 Goldwater Scholar

Friday, April 1, 2016

WELLESLEY HILLS, MA (April 1, 2016) – Massachusetts Bay Community College is pleased to announce student Stacy Okada has been named a 2016 Goldwater Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Foundation, the awarding body for the highest national undergraduate prize for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Okada is the only community college student nationwide to be named a scholar this year by the prestigious foundation, which also awarded students from research powerhouses, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins University.

“MassBay is both proud of Stacy’s research accomplishments and thrilled for her achievement of the Goldwater Award,” said MassBay Interim President Yves Salomon-Fernandez. “We continue to cultivate the current and next generation of scientists.”

“Stacy exemplifies the power of research-based education and the type of exemplary scholars produced by MassBay,” said MassBay Professor and Chair of the Biotechnology and Forensic DNA Science Department Dr. Bruce Jackson.

“The Goldwater Foundation is pleased to be able to recognize outstanding students like Stacy Okada who come from outstanding programs like MassBay’s Biotechnology and Forensic Science Department, which now boasts 21 Goldwater recipients, said Goldwater Foundation President John Mateja. “While I know that results like this require a considerable team effort involving many faculty and administrators, I also know that it takes someone like MassBay’s Dr. Bruce Jackson, winner of last year’s CUR-Goldwater Faculty Scholar Mentor Award, to make this happen. Kudos to Stacy for your hard work and to everyone at MassBay for all you are doing that is changing your students’ lives.”

Okada plans to pursue a doctorate in either Molecular Biology or Biochemistry, with an emphasis on mentoring non-traditional women in STEM. She was chosen for The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) ten week summer program at Boston University. Okada is a married mother of two children, ages 2 ½ and 6, and lives in the Boston area.

“This is an incredible honor and the most validating academic experience of my life,” said Okada. “This distinction is proof to anyone beginning their journey a little later in life, as I have, that it is truly never too late to pursue your dreams.”

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served the United States for 56 years as a soldier, statesman, and U.S. Senator. The Goldwater Scholarships go to college students who intend to pursue research careers in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics, and is considered the premier scholarship award of its type in these fields.

Since 1996, MassBay has produced a total of 21 Goldwater Scholars, more than all of the other community colleges in the United States combined and more than many four-year institutions.