My Graduate Achiever Scholarship
My name is Baraka Lwoya. I was born in Kenya, and migrated to the United States when I was 15 years. Since my childhood, I always had a great interest in mathematics, and science. The love for these courses pushed me to pursue a college degree in chemical engineering at New Mexico State University. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I actively participated in the Honor Society by tutoring, and mentoring incoming freshmen. In addition to this, I worked with several high schools to perform science demonstration that would excite future teenage scientists. After successful completing my undergraduate degree with highest honors, I felt the need to further my education. After months of pondering whether to work or go to graduate school, I finally decided to select graduate school. I chose to attend Tulane university, after careful evaluation of other university. The close neat community at Tulane was a great attraction for me. While attending graduate school, I selected to work in the block polymer field of research.
Block copolymers consist of two or more chemically distinct homopolymers that are joined together by a strong bond. Homopolymers can be described as a continuous connection of small molecules of the same chemical unit. As a result of joining two chemically distinct materials, there is an inherent energetic driving force pushing them to separate from each other similar to water and oil. In separating into distinct segments - which are defined as domains - the chemical and physical properties of the individual polymers are retained in the individual domains. In my research, I exploit this nanophase separation (~10-100 nm) for developing materials that can be used in several industrial applications such as nanopatterning, solar cells, and nanoporous purification membranes.
In receiving this award, I will be amongst one of the few and proud scientists in the Honor Society organization to win such a prestigious award. Any accolade is a blessing, and receiving a competitive award like this will allow me to further encourage the impoverishing and educationally deprived youth of New Orleans that science does pay, and is the right direction. It is no secret that New Orleans is ridden by gang violence. Most of the youth do not believe education is there way out given the barriers already placed in their society, and non-educated parent. By continuously advertising Honor Society to these youth, and showing that if one of the can receive an award they too can get it will go a long way in motivating them. In addition to be a U.S. military serviceman, I will try to use my winning to personally have science events for my mentees.
If I am not in the lab work, I tend to enjoy playing soccer or just going to the New Orleans city square. I consider myself to be fortunate enough to be going to a great university, while still having the opportunity to gain multicultural exposure in New Orleans. When in New Orleans do not forget to enjoy the parade!!!