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Dannielle Solomon Figueroa, PhD, 2012
I am thrilled to have been selected as an UNCF Merck Fellow. I first heard of the fellowship from a postdoc I met at a conference. After looking over the award I was pleased that the program would match me with a minority researcher from Merck who could help guide my professional development. Mentorship was the most appealing part of the award. There are only 37 awards given out nationally to undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students--12 for graduate students. It means a lot to be selected and also to help in increasing the less than 2% of African American biology/bioengineering PhDs in the United States. It comes with great pride and great responsibility.
The application process was rigorous as with most applications. However this award is only available to students in their last 1-2 years (someone who is past their qualifiers and has completed their PhD proposal). Having completed my PhD proposal and knowing what I plan to do for my dissertation research was critical for this application. Another key factor was the "Career Statement" which guidelines what you goals are--for me a career in academia. It was challenging however to explain why and how I plan to pursue these goals, the program wanted detail. The Drexel Fellowship Workshop last summer helped me prepare a detailed and passionate career statement. I got valuable critique which I am sure helped my application stand out.