Three Harvard undergraduates and a Harvard Medical School student are among the 30 American recipients of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, the organization announced recently.
Seniors Sherry Gong ’11, Johnny H. Hu ’11, and Katherine E. Pickard ’11 and a second-year HMS student—selected from an initial field of around 800 applicants and an interview shortlist of 80—will have the opportunity to pursue master’s or PhD degrees at the University of Cambridge in England under the financial auspices of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to the official press release.
The HMS student has declined the scholarship and asked that his name not be printed.
For Hu, a chemical and physical biology concentrator, the trip to Cambridge represents a triumphant homecoming. Born in China, Hu moved to England when he was five and spent five years there before settling in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I really loved my time in England, and I’ve always been excited about going back,” he said. “Hopefully by the time I get back to the US, I’ll have a British accent.”
At Cambridge, the Cabot House resident and mentor for the Harvard-Allston Education Portal will pursue a master’s degree in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, specifically examining the response of neurons to external guidance. He hopes to eventually become a researcher in neurological diseases.
“When I talked to the other interviewees, there were a lot of really intelligent and thoughtful people who were doing great things,” Hu said. “It’s a very humbling experience for me to be selected.”
Gong, one of Fifteen Minutes’ 15 Most Interesting Seniors this year, was born in N.Y. to a family of math professors, but grew up in Toronto, Puerto Rico, and New Hampshire. This year she received the Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize for the top female math student in the country. At Cambridge, she will pursue a M.Sc. in pure math.
Pickard, a psychology concentrator with a special interest in the study of children with psychological disabilities, will study toward an M.Phil. in social and developmental psychology.
At Harvard, the Phoenix, Ariz. native and Eliot House resident is a varsity swimmer and co-founder of Project SWIM, a club that teaches children with autism and Down syndrome how to swim.
“It’s not as hard as it seems,” Picker said of juggling her activities and classes.
Beyond her one-year master’s program at Cambridge, the record-holding athlete may pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. Pickard eventually plans to devote her research to the early intervention and diagnosis of autism, she said.
“It’s nice to know what I’ll be doing next year,” she said.
—Staff writer Michelle B. Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.