Each year during the Athena Pinnacle Awards, Athena awards scholarships and a Gateway computer to outstanding female high school students who are pursuing a career in science, engineering or mathematics. Past winners have attended competitive institutions of higher learning, including Harvard College, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University and schools in the University of California system. The following profiles include this year’s scholarship winners and a glimpse of how each of them is diving in.
When Jessica was 7 she asked her mother, “Which do you find more useful, your upper lip or your lower lip?” And although Jessica still doesn’t know the answer to the question, her perpetual curiosity told her she was bound to be a math and science girl.
Jessica was invited to attend UCSD’s Academic Connections, a three-week summer residential program where she enrolled in the course Engineering and Earthquakes. From this experience she discovered that she wanted to be a structural engineer.
True to her plan, Jessica will be attending UCSD’s Sixth College as a structural engineering major.
Jessica’s principal at Helix High School said she is intellectually carnivorous, highly intelligent and a true scholar. She has an insatiable desire to learn and is willing to challenge ideas.
Jessica is CSF president a member of the varsity track and field team.
In her spare time, Jessica loves to sing, act, knit, run and go to the beach. She is a true California girl.
Dana says biomedical engineering is much more than a career to her; it is a calling.
She is a modern-day Renaissance woman with diverse interests that run from anatomy to aeronautics to zygotes and zero gravity.
Dana’s chemistry instructor at Bonita Vista High School, Jeffrey Rivera, says Dana can be anything she wants, and he easily sees her being a doctor, lawyer, senator or researcher. He says her talents are wide and deep and that whatever course she takes, he knows she will be successful and the people around her will be lucky to know her.
Dana was pleasantly surprised to be admitted to all seven of the universities she applied to — Harvard, Stanford, UCSD, UCLA, Berkeley, USC and Caltech. Dana has decided to attend her first choice, the California Institute of Technology in the fall.
Besides being a varsity lacrosse player, Dana’s hobbies include singing, dancing, guitar and beadwork.
Sally describes herself as the nerdy scientist, the community do-gooder, the student leader, the eccentric musician and a varsity athlete all rolled into one.
Dawn Gam-berale, Sally’s chemistry teacher at Rancho Bernardo High School, describes Sally as mature and focused, possessing the qualities found in great leaders.
Due to her strong knowledge of science, Sally was selected to intern at the Salk Institute, and participated in the COSMOS mathematics and science summer program.
Sally is president of the Key Club, vice president of the National Honor Society and co-president of the Future Medical Leaders of America.
Sally was also selected to be the Varsity Track and Field Female Scholar Athlete of the year.
In her spare time, she is an accomplished musician, playing violin and piano and is first violin in the San Diego Youth Symphony.
Sally will be attending Duke University in the fall.
Daphne Di-Fan Lo
Daphne is a senior at Eastlake High School. Every summer for the last three years, Daphne has gone to Texas Tech University Medical School to intern for the summer where she studied the effect of different dietary oils and their relation to cancer. She also co-authored an article on the study.
From her experience, Daphne plans to major in biochemistry to become a science researcher and practicing physician. Of all the colleges she applied to, Duke, Johns Hopkins and UCSD are her top choices.
Her counselor, Tim Lopez, says Daphne is creative, well organized and goal oriented; she takes on leadership roles easily and interacts well with people of all ages.
She is active in the Key Club and is CSF president and founder of the math competition club. In addition, she is the captain of the varsity tennis team.
As hobbies, Daphne loves to play the piano, violin, viola, cello, bassoon and flute (yes, that is six instruments). She loves to read, spend time with her family and sleep.
Michelle is a senior at Torrey Pines High School and is considering a wide spectrum of potential careers in the field of science, including marine biology, neuroscience, robotics, cell biology, astronomy, epidemiology and fossils.
She hopes to attend UCSD, Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, Pomona, Santa Clara, Harvard, Yale, Columbia or Brown in the fall. Michelle says that all of these top schools offer endless opportunities to be a leading woman in science.
Since 2002, Michelle has worked in a lab at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and her Professor Lihini Aluwihare says that she is academically gifted, self confident, unassuming and solid, and a born leader.
Michelle has won many awards by participating in the Science Olympiad and has been selected for the state team each year since the seventh grade.
For fun, Michelle likes to dance and she is the co-president and lead choreographer of the Off the Wall dance club. She also loves to scuba dive, play the piano and do origami.