Recipients of the Vertex Science Leaders Scholarship Announced

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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Global biotechnology company and Cystic Fibrosis therapeutic leader Vertex, together with the University of Massachusetts (UMass), recently revealed the awardees of the yearly Vertex Science Leaders Scholarship, which will fund 4 years of their education in any Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) course at any UMass campus. This scholarship is part of Vertex’s mission to encourage the youth of Boston to engage in STEM based course work.

This year’s Vertex scholars are a pair of students from Excel High School:

  • Cankang Wu plans to study engineering at UMass Amherst. Cankang emigrated with his family from China and will be the first in the family to attend college. Early on in his childhood he developed an interest in engineering and technology after spending much of his childhood days at his father’s wood-processing factory.
  • Gladynel Baez will attend UMass Boston to study biology and has dreams of becoming a doctor. She was inspired to pursue a career in science after losing two aunts and her grandfather to cancer and spending time in Vertex’s Learning Lab.

It was in 2012 that Vertex boosted its dedication to improving STEM education for Boston’s youth through an extensive program that includes the following:

  • Annual four-year Vertex Science Leaders Scholarship to a UMass campus;
  • Thomas M. Menino Learning Lab – a 3,000 square foot classroom and laboratory space in our Fan Pier campus dedicated to enhancing science education among Boston Public School students;
  • High school and college internships;
  • Science Fair Mentorship program – students are paired with a Vertex mentor and receive guidance on science fair projects at the school and state level.

“Vertex is committed to developing the next generation of scientific leaders by sparking and fostering an early interest in science,” said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vertex. “Our programs fill an important need for hands-on training and will help reduce achievement and access gaps for underserved students, while preparing them for a bright future in life sciences. For the past two years Cankang and Gladynel grew with Vertex as interns and spent extensive time in our Learning Lab. We’re delighted to see the tremendous passion they’ve developed for STEM.”

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“In order for our young people to have bright futures, we must do our part to create the opportunities that foster pathways to success,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I thank Vertex for continuing to support our future and our community, and congratulate Cankang and Gladynel on these deserving honors.”

“We are honored to welcome Cankang and Gladynel to the UMass family,” said University of Massachusetts President Martin T. Meehan. “We share Vertex’s commitment to investing in Boston’s youth and enhancing science education in the community.”

Vertex will also be working with Bottom Line, an organization with a mission to help underserved, first-generation students get admitted to college and finish their education through mentoring and support. Yesterday, August 19, 2015 Vertex hosted the organization’s yearly Success Send-Off Event to kick off the school year for over 200 first-generation college students who have the Bottom Line program to thank for their budding college careers. Here, students like Cankang and Gladynel will have the opportunity to learn from team building activities and interact with their assigned Bottom Line Success Counselor, together with fellow Bottom Line students.

“We’re proud of these students and all the hard work they’ve put into their academics to get them here,” said Mike Wasserman, Massachusetts Executive Director at Bottom Line. “It’s partnerships like this, with Vertex and UMass, that allow us to provide guidance and support for students who want to thrive and grow, particularly in this next chapter of their lives and we can’t wait to see the great things they accomplish.”