Four students receive Goldwater recognition

Mackenzie Mathews

WKU has discovered newfound prestige through the recognition of all four nominees in the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program.

Three of the four nominated students received the award in order to pursue careers in math, science or engineering. The student who did not obtain the scholarship was recognized as “Honorable Mention.”

“It speaks to the university and the strides it’s made over the years,” recipient John Cliburn said, a Gatton senior from Cloverport. “It gives personal attention to every student, especially those who are pursuing research, so they can achieve what they want and secure a bright future.”

Students applying to Goldwater must be of sophomore or junior status and studying in a science, technology, engineering or math field. The program seeks students with research experience and strong academic standing.

Students generally find Goldwater success with support from faculty mentors, most of whom have been researching together for months prior to the application process. 

These mentors assist students in perfecting application skills and writing recommendation letters.

“The fact that all four of WKU’s nominees gained recognition in the competition speaks volumes about the opportunities available to undergraduates at WKU to engage in research and the dedication of our faculty,” Audra Jennings, director of the Office of Scholar Development, said.

Recipients get a $7,500 research stipend to go towards tuition, books, housing or travel. On top of fiscal benefits, the award makes students more competitive for internships and graduate programs.

Cliburn plans to attend Vanderbilt University in the fall and hopes to use the award to continue research with differential equations. He hopes to team up with a faculty member working with a similar matter.

“The focus of Goldwater is on students who are going to actively participate and contribute to research and most students who want to get a Ph.D. and teach at the university level,” Cliburn said.

Students had to outline their research goals on the application and explain how they plan to contribute to their chosen fields. Researchers notice the award, allowing students to create opportunities for graduate school.

Cliburn has been working with Lan Nguyen in the math department to study mathematical applications in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

“The Goldwater Scholarship is a very prestigious award,” Jennings said. “It looks for students who are committed to pursuing research careers and have the potential to excel in research.”