Boston Public High School Students Hannah Mei and Sayed Shah
Receive Vertex Science Leaders Scholarship to Pursue STEM Degrees at
Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the University of Massachusetts today
announced the recipients of the annual Vertex Science Leaders
Scholarship, a four-year, full-ride scholarship to pursue an education
in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) at any University of
Massachusetts campus. The scholarship is part of a broad STEM education
program established by Vertex to equip students for careers in STEM
through hands-on learning and mentoring opportunities.
This year's scholarship recipients are Sayed Shah from the Boston
International Newcomers Academy and Hannah Mei from the John D. O'Bryant
School of Mathematics and Science. Both students are first-generation
immigrants and college students who have witnessed firsthand the
powerful impact that careers in STEM can have.
"These scholarships are about our ability to help change the lives of
young people through opportunity to higher education," said Jeffrey
Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of
Vertex. "Students like Sayed and Hannah are the future leaders of
innovation in science and medicine, and we're delighted to help provide
the opportunities they need to develop their talent and succeed in a
"I thank Vertex for recognizing the strong talent within the Boston
Public Schools," said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "These students are
dedicated and eager to learn the skills that will make them successful
in our current and future economy."
Sayed has been involved with Vertex's STEM program for the past year,
regularly visiting Vertex's Thomas M. Menino Learning Lab with his
class. Both Hannah and Sayed are interning at Vertex this summer so they
can apply their passion for using science to solve tough problems and
improve people's lives.
"Life can be hard, but sometimes hardship gives you the solutions,"
wrote Sayed in his scholarship application essay. After his home
district in Pakistan lost access to electricity, Sayed activated lessons
from his physics and math classes to create a water-powered electric
motor, allowing his family to eat dinner in the light. Sayed realized
the potential of his education to make an impact and now plans to study
computer engineering at UMass Amherst.
Similarly, Hannah's focus on pharmacology was spurred by a personal
connection to cancer. Hannah realized she could channel her love of
science into developing lifesaving medicines to help people with cancer
and other diseases. She plans to study biochemistry at UMass Amherst.
"Sayed and Hannah have demonstrated great initiative and determination
in the face of extraordinary personal challenges, and I'm proud to
welcome them to the University of Massachusetts," said UMass President
Marty Meehan. "UMass is committed to giving hardworking students access
to a transformative education and preparing them to thrive in the
Commonwealth's innovation economy."
Vertex's comprehensive STEM program and partnership with Boston Public
Schools began in 2012. In addition to the Vertex Science Leaders
Scholarship, these programs include:
Thomas M. Menino Learning Lab - A 3,000-square-foot classroom
and laboratory space that provides local students and teachers the
opportunity to work alongside Vertex scientists to conduct experiments
with cutting-edge technologies. More than 1,000 students attended
science classes or workshops in the Learning Lab this year.
High school and college internships - Students gain real-world
professional experience and exposure to careers in STEM. This summer,
approximately 35 high school students and 100 college students will
join us for internships in our labs and across the business.
Science Fair Mentorship program - Students are paired with a
Vertex mentor and receive guidance on science fair projects at the
school, city and state level. In Spring 2017, 21 Vertex mentors spent
more than 500 hours working with students on their projects.
Community partnerships - Over the last five years, Vertex
has developed strong relationships with organizations like Bottom
Line, Hack.Diversity and i2 Learning to expose students to STEM
opportunities at every point along their educational journey — from
grade school to graduate school.
"This partnership with Vertex is a true example of one that provides
students college- and career-ready skills in the innovation sector,"
said BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. "Not only is Vertex helping foster
our future leaders, they are embracing the multi-cultural lenses that
Sayed and Hannah bring to the table. I am so proud of these students, as
well as the other award recipients, for their continued dedication and
Vertex also granted three $1,000 awards to scholarship finalists.
Florcey Bouquet from the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and
Science will attend UMass Amherst, and Madison Park Vocational High
School graduates, Taija Reverdes and Evelyn Rosario will be attending
UMass Dartmouth and UMass Boston, respectively.
Vertex is a global
biotechnology company that aims to discover, develop and commercialize
innovative medicines so people with serious diseases can lead better
lives. In addition to our clinical development programs focused on
cystic fibrosis, Vertex has more than a dozen ongoing research programs
aimed at other serious and life-threatening diseases.
Founded in 1989 in Cambridge, Mass., Vertex today has research and
development sites and commercial offices in the United States, Europe,
Canada and Australia. For seven years in a row, Science magazine
has named Vertex one of its Top Employers in the life sciences. For
additional information and the latest updates from the company, please
About the University of Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts is a five-campus public research university
system renowned for the quality of its academic programs, the scope and
excellence of its research, and the strength of its public service
mission. UMass provides access to high-quality, affordable education
that advances knowledge and improves the lives of the people of the
Commonwealth, the nation and the world.
About Boston Public Schools
Boston Public Schools (BPS), the birthplace of public education in the
United States, serves nearly 57,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12
students in 125 schools. BPS is committed to transforming the lives of
all children through exemplary teaching in a world-class system of
innovative, welcoming schools. We partner with the community, families,
and students to develop in every learner the knowledge, skill, and
character to excel in college, career, and life.
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Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
Heather Nichols, 617-839-3607
Cournoyer, 978-935-8521 (mobile)
Public Schools Communications Office, 617-635-9265
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