Elana Carleton, a first-year student from Millis majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, was recently awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Alliantgroup Blue Heart Fund STEM Scholarship Program. She accepted the award during a ceremony Nov. 7 at company headquarters in Houston, Texas.
Carleton, the salutatorian of her graduating class at Millis High School, says she quickly developed an interest in science during her first biology class on campus. She says, “I owe a lot to my teacher, Scott Alconada, for saying one day, ‘It is amazing that we are even alive right now.’ That sentence still affects me because I just think about all the cells, all the interactions, and all the processes happening right now just for me to be alive. It truly is amazing!”
In a statement, Alliantgroup points out that its Blue Heart Fund STEM Scholarship program is intended to support students like Carleton in pursuing careers in STEM. Applicants were evaluated based on a short YouTube video or 500-word essay describing their interest in STEM and how the scholarship would help them to achieve their goals.
CEO Dhaval R. Jadav says, “STEM is truly the future of our economy. Those seeking a career in STEM-related fields will find some of the highest-paying and in-demand jobs around. I hear too often from companies about the shortage of technical talent out there for the positions they are trying to fill and I am on a personal mission to help solve this problem.”
Carleton plans to use her scholarship to help finance her studies. She is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College and part of the biological science majors Talent Advanced Program residential academic program, BioTAP RAP, where she lives with other honors students taking the same honors biology class. She says, “I love BioTAP because I am able to live with people who share common goals and passions. The program is challenging and encourages me to constantly push myself to my full potential.”
Carleton is also the secretary of the newly formed UMass Genetics Club, where students discuss genetic current events and seek ways to educate the public on genetics-related issues. Although just part-way through her first undergraduate semester she is already planning to pursue a graduate degree. “I am really enjoying my first year on campus so far and I am very excited on what is to come,” she says.