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Four Urban Students Win CGCS-Bernard Harris Scholarships in Math and Science

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world and transformed education, yet four graduating high school seniors remained resilient and were awarded the 2020 CGCS-Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarships.

    In June, the Council of the Great City Schools announced the winners of the scholarship program, two African American and two Hispanic seniors from high schools in the 76 urban school districts represented by the Council. The winners were selected from among several hundred applicants considered for their academic performance, leadership qualities, and community involvement. 

    Now in its second year, the scholarship was created by former NASA astronaut, Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African American to walk in space, to encourage and assist promising students of diverse backgrounds who plan to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies after high school.

    “Increasing cultural diversity in the nation’s STEM workforce is vital and has been a life-long mission for me,” said Dr. Harris. “I strongly believe in fostering the next generation of STEM leaders and am happy to help these talented students become the innovators and leaders of tomorrow as they pursue excellence in their chosen fields.” 

    Each award recipient will receive $5,000 for their continued education in a STEM-related field. This year’s award winners are:

    • Raul Ayala, School of Health Professions, Dallas Independent School District;
    • Vanessa Cid, Hialeah High School, Miami-Dade County Public Schools; 
    • Abani Neferkara, Lincoln High School, Portland Public Schools; and
    • Eliska Peacock, School Without Walls High School, District of Columbia Public Schools.

    In the fall, Ayala plans to attend Brown University to study mechanical engineering. Cid will pursue a degree in biochemistry at Stanford University. Neferkara plans to study molecular and cell biology at Brown University, and Peacock will study computer science at Stanford University. 

    “The Council is proud to partner with Dr. Bernard Harris on this important scholarship program to provide talented minority students in urban school districts a way to pursue STEM studies after high school,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools. “The generous support of Dr. Harris helps advance these young men and women as they begin the next stage of their lives.” 

    Administration of the scholarship program, including the application process, pre-selection and presentation of awards, is provided by CGCS. Dr. Harris makes the final selection of recipients.

    Raul Ayala    Vanessa Cid    Abani Neferkara  Eliska Peacock