WASHINGTON, PA (May 13, 2019)— Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) sophomore Leslie Watkins ’21 is one of only 496 undergraduate sophomores and juniors selected nationwide for a Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship given in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics in the United States.
Leslie, a biology major, was one of four students from W&J nominated for the Goldwater Scholarship, and when she got the news that she’d won, she was nothing but surprised.
“There has to be a mistake here,” she said, “I was in shock.”
Leslie will receive $7,500 each year for the next two years of her undergraduate work at W&J to assist in paying with tuition. She has also been put into a group chatroom with all of this year’s Goldwater Scholarship recipients to foster collaboration and give each recipient resources for their work for years to come.
When asked what she thought set her apart from the rest of the candidates, Leslie said it was the research experiences she has had at W&J. She has completed research with her advisor, Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Anupama Shanmuganathan, and will complete research this summer at Johns Hopkins University, where she will study the relationship between Parkinson’s Disease and the gastrointestinal system.
“Leslie’s award is also a testament to W&J’s commitment to fostering undergraduate research, which I hope will continue in the years to come,” Dr. Shanmuganathan said.
Following her research experience this summer, Leslie will study abroad in Seoul, South Korea, where she hopes to learn more about gene editing.
Looking back, she cannot help but think about what W&J has provided her in only two short years.
“I think it was a great decision to come here. I wouldn’t have had any of these opportunities. I didn’t realize the extent of how many opportunities there would be at an institution like this,” she said.
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.