2022 JAX College Scholarship Recipients Announced

An image collage of the 2022 JAX college scholarship winners: Vanessa Norris, Evi Duro, and Sara Mohammadi.The 2022 JAX college scholarship winners: (l to r) Vanessa Norris, Evi Duro, and Sara Mohammadi.

JAX awards three students with $10K scholarships, a total of $140K in scholarships granted since 2018.

JAX’s annual scholarship, now in its fifth year, recognizes high school students from underserved backgrounds pursuing careers in life sciences and health care.

The Jackson Laboratory is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2022 JAX College Scholarship Program: Vanessa Norris of Winslow, Maine; Evi Duro of Waterbury, Conn.; and Sara Mohammadi of Sacramento, Calif.

The annual award provides $10,000 scholarships to high school students from underserved backgrounds in Maine, Connecticut and greater Sacramento, California who will pursue a college degree and aspire to a career in biomedicine.

“The JAX Genomic Education team encourages, trains and enthusiastically supports bright students who plan to enter STEM careers,” said Charlie Wray, Ph.D., vice president for education. “It is a privilege to award these future leaders – Vanessa, Evi, and Sara – with a JAX College Scholarship Award, and we look forward to supporting their academic and career growth throughout their higher education journeys.”

In addition to the financial award, JAX facilitates internship programs for the recipients throughout their college career and sponsors annual campus visits.

“Now that our scholarship program is in its fifth year, we see our first awardees already pursuing the next steps in their careers, and it’s something The Jackson Laboratory is very proud of,” said LuAnn Ballesteros, vice president of external and government affairs. “These individuals are so deserving of our support. I believe they are role models to others in their communities.”

Natalia Fuentes received the first JAX scholarship in 2018, which she used toward her education at Harvard University. She said that the award was the beginning of her rewarding relationship, and perhaps a future career, with research science – including a 2019 stint as a summer student at JAX – and noted the scholarship’s crucial role in offering educational opportunities to students who may otherwise not have access to them.

“My JAX scholarship not only made college affordable, but it gave me a reason to believe in myself. I was a first-generation college student, daughter to two Mexican immigrants, and little reason to think I would be capable of working and serving my communities alongside cutting-edge, highly accoladed scientists. My scholarship validated my academic work and service as a high schooler and helped me see myself as deserving and capable,” she said. “These scholarships and experiences primarily make higher education affordable, but they fundamentally restructure which individuals are closer to having their name on a research article. This is the future of science, and five years ago, JAX recognized this future in the face of an overwhelmed, over-worked, and under-credited Latinx high schooler. For that, I am so grateful and hopeful for our future scientists.” 

2022 Maine JAX College Scholarship Awardee: Vanessa Norris

2022 JAX college scholarship recipient Vanessa Norris
2022 JAX college scholarship recipient Vanessa Norris

Norris will use her JAX College Scholarship for her undergraduate degree at Harvard, where she plans to major in biochemistry, and hopes to one day have a career that focuses on patient care or laboratory research. She says that the pandemic sparked her interest in the biomedical science field: “I realized I wanted to be a part of something groundbreaking, something that could help save millions of people in our society,” she wrote in her scholarship application. Norris is a graduate of Winslow High School, where her achievements included being class president, part of the National Honors Society and an active member of the track and cross-country teams.

2022 Connecticut JAX College Scholarship Awardee: Evi Duro

2022 JAX college scholarship recipient Evi Duro

Duro will use her JAX College Scholarship for her undergraduate degree at Cornell. She has been drawn to STEM fields all her life and is particularly interested in studying radiology. She hopes to pursue a career as a medical professional: “They have the ability to set people at ease while healing them, and I truly see myself doing the same.” Duro attended John F. Kennedy High School, where she won precalculus and geometry awards and was the head math tutor for her peers. She pursued related opportunities in her field while in high school, including working with the UConn Mini Medical and Dental program.

2022 California JAX College Scholarship Awardee: Sara Mohammadi

2022 JAX college scholarship recipient Sara Mohammadi

Mohammadi will use her JAX College Scholarship for her undergraduate degree at American River College. She hopes to be a nurse one day, concentrating on coordinating patient care, then continue her studies and eventually become a doctor. Her interests are in the biomedical field, including understanding how different bodily systems work. “This scholarship can help me to achieve my dreams,” Mohammadi wrote in her application. She attended Foothill High School, where she was an honors student.

The Jackson Laboratory College Scholarship Program

To date, the JAX College Scholarship Program has awarded a total of $140,000 in scholarships to students from underserved backgrounds in Connecticut, Maine and Sacramento County, California. This program supports students whose goals align with JAX’s mission to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and is aligned with the Genomic Education team’s mission to create diverse and inclusive educational programs where students feel valued and empowered.

JAX Genomic Education’s initiatives aim to ignite the passion of future scientists, advance careers, and inform the public about the unfolding promise of genetics and genomics. In addition to the JAX College Scholarship Program, the Genomic Education team hosts and sponsors the Summer Student ProgramTeaching the Genome GenerationMaine State Science Fair, STEM Open Houses in Maineand Connecticut, and additional programs.